Monday, April 30, 2007
Monsanto and Soybeans©
The European Patent office will be making a decision on Monsanto's European patent (No. 301-749) on all (yes, all) genetically modified soybeans on May 3. The decision is due to the 13 year legal battle against the patent by the ETC Group
(formerly RAFI) and Greenpeace
. The patent was originally awarded to another US biotech company, Agracetus in 1994, but that company was overtaken by Monsanto in 1996.
In 2005, reports indicated that Monsanto's engineered soybean represented close to 90% of globally planted soy. Monsanto is currently the largest seed company in the world
The patent was already upheld in a 2003 hearing by the European Patent Office.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Wired has covered the recent House Bill
and some related threads, including some public polls stats.
The News Standard has an article on the BP agreements with UC Berkeley and the Univsersity of Illinois, Urbana-Chamapaign
that has received some attention in Berkeley, but very little at UIUC. The agreement would form the Energy Biosciences Institute, which would be the largest climate-change research deal between universities and industry according to the article. UC Berkeley's Ignacio Chapela has been outspoken against the dangers of such agreements.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Biotech Businesses and NIH Guidelines
I'm not completely sure what to make of this just yet, but the Sunshine Project has some data
that points out that 18 of the top 20 biotech companies (excluding companies, like DuPont and Monsanto that are not exclusively biotech), don't comply with NIH guidelines. And apparently, the 2 that do comply only do so because they are required by legislation in the municipality in which they operate (Cambridge, MA).
On a similar note, the SP also broke news about a major breach of protocol at Texas A&M
involving an infection of a lab worker exposed to a weaponized biological agent.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Green Revolution 2.0?
The ETC Group released a report
on 5 new programs that the group is labelling "Green Revolution 2.0" after the first Green Revolution
following WWII that had such drastic impacts in India and across the globe. From their press release:
"While a comprehensive approach to African agriculture seems logical, ETC Group is concerned that all of the major initiatives are "top-down" exports from OECD countries. Nobody is talking to farmers or their organizations. The Canadian government, for example, is building a $30 million biotech research facility in Nairobi to pursue genetically modified crops. The request came from an international research network headquartered in Washington - not from Africans. Likewise, the Gates/Rockefeller AGRA initiative already has a detailed plan on how to spend its first $150 million but admits that it has yet to talk with African farmers' organizations. "
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Recent story in Wired about the drop in male births in the US and Japan
points to some research
from the Pittsburgh Cancer Institute's Center for Environmental Oncology. The research suggests a combination of environmental factors that are effecting genetic material pre-conception in males as well as in prenatal situations. The story mentions that males with high rates of exposure to solvents in the workplace conceive fewer male children.
Genetic engineering should be looked at as more expansive than just those activities that deliberately involve the direct manipulation of DNA, as the manipulation of a population's biology indirectly (like through the allowed exposure to toxins in the workplace) is equally an engineered situation. Positive eugenics (through tech like IVF) and negative eugenics (regulating reproduction of "undesirables") alike were always part of the program.