The NewStandard has a story on recent claims by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) that the US Food and Drug Administration "cherry picked" research findings to downplay the relationship between cloning processes and the risk of genetic abnormalities resulting from consumption of meat from cloned animals. Their claim is that the FDA's studies don't look thoroughly at consumption, but focus selectively on cloned animal physiology - assuming a direct relationship between the health of the animal and the safety of humans consuming meat from it.
The FDA's public comments period on cloned animals ends on April 2. You can also submit comments via the CFS. If their approval stands, there will be no required labeling of cloned meat to separate it from conventionally bred animals.
The contradictions of the "free market" continue to escalate.
Science Magazine has a short article on a $570,000 award that the Microsoft is granting to 6 teams of academic scientists and researchers in the field of synthetic biology (interesting how that phrase is becoming more and more used in place of biotechnology).
And speaking of software and its relationship to biotech, a recent article in the Public Library of Science titled "Synthetic Biology: Caught Between Property Rights, the Public Domain and the Commons" has a section on the problems of copyright and patent law created by the software industry and how they potentially effect the understanding of intellectual property in bio-engineering practices. Basically, the authors are fearful that the same overly broad patents that have become common to software will be the standard in bio-engineering as well.
A story in the New Standard points to the discovery of Liberty Link, a genetically modified variety of rice produced by Bayer CropScience, in Mexican markets. Like most GMO crops, Liberty Link rice is designed to be compatible with a trademarked pesticide (in this case Bayer's Liberty Link pesticide).
Some may remember that this GM rice variety was approved by the USDA for consumption, but only 3 months AFTER it had already been found in the food supply. The article says that Liberty Link does not appear to have been approved buy Mexico (the author could find no record of it being approved and Greenpeace has stated that it has not been).
Some recent legal rulings regarding GE crops in the US
On February 13 (2007), a Federal Court ruled that the USDA did not follow federal law when it approved Monsanto's Round-Up Ready Alfalfa. The ruling was the result of a lawsuit against the USDA brought by the Center for Food Safety and primarily concerned the potential of Monsanto's alfalfa to contaminate conventional alfalfa crops, which would have devastating consequences for conventional alfalfa farmers. Apparently, this is the first such ruling in a federal court against the USDA.
Monsanto, has of course, responded with a motion.
A bill has recently been introduced into the state assembly of California that would make corporations, like Monsanto, responsible for any negative effects their GE crops cause to conventional farmers due to "contamination".
This article, from the Institute of Science in Society (a UK-based organization) discusses three recent rulings against GMO crops in US federal courts, including the Monsanto alfalfa ruling.
Just for laughs, a "story" from the Weekly World Inquisitor quotes an alien on why they won't make crop circles in GMO fields:
Just imagine — we accidentally pick up a few seeds on our undercarriageand take them home without knowing. They could spread like wildfirethen and we'd end up paying Monsanto an annual fee just to grow flooblebeans on our own planet. Madness.
Just received this press release about a project that includes YOUgenics friends CAE, subRosa and Adam Zaretsky:
A Project by CAPSULA
Centre d'Art Santa Mònica, Barcelona
Opening: 16th March, 8:00pm
Days of Bioart is an ongoing project that intends to create a space of debate and exhibition dedicated to biological and living art that reflects the increasing interest around life sciences and the influence that they are having in culture and society.
Created and coordinated by CAPSULA, Days of Bioart began in 2006 as a symposium and SymbioticA Tissue Engineering and Art Workshop.
This edition will reproduce in an exhibition space projects of artists and collectives that explore different formats in search of arising awareness on the techniques and discourses behind the new biotechnologies. It will analyse the performance potential and the laborious development of actions built around the domestication of concepts such as body architecture, semi-living, contestational biology or bioporn.
The projects and texts on show are by Critical Art Ensemble, subRosa, Guy Ben-Ary and Tanya Visosevic, Bioteknica, Stelarc and Nina Sellars, Kira O'Reilly, Marta de Menezes, Brandon Ballangee, Laura Cinti, Elio Caccavale, George Gessert, Adam Zaretsky, Julia Reodica, Jens Hauser and Dmitry Bulatov.
On the 16th of March at 1:30 pm the 'CD Days of Bioart 06' that documents the first edition that took place in February 2006 will be released. www.capsula.org.es/diasdebioarte
From the washingtonpost.com, a story about a rice variety being engineered to produce a human immune protein... and its approval by the USDA. As one critic of the move, Jane Rissler of the Union of Concerned Scientists, says, the USDA doesn't really have a good record of monitoring and oversight of biotechnology. And what does the company behind the rice variety say (Ventria Bioscience)? "Plants are phenomenal factories, Our raw materials are the sun, soil and water."
I'm sure "sun, soil and water" aren't listed in the patent.
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