Tag Archives | Genetic Engineering

Mosquitoes That Are Genetically-Engineered to Self Destruct (To Prevent Disease) Are in the Air

MosquitoBijal P. Trivedi writes in Scientific American:

A new breed of genetically modified mosquitoes carries a gene that cripples its own offspring. They could crush native mosquito populations and block the spread of disease. And they are already in the air — though that’s been a secret.

Outside Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico — 10 miles from Guatemala. To reach the cages, we follow the main highway out of town, driving past soy, cocoa, banana and lustrous dark-green mango plantations thriving in the rich volcanic soil. Past the tiny village of Rio Florido the road degenerates into an undulating dirt tract. We bump along on waves of baked mud until we reach a security checkpoint, guard at the ready. A sign posted on the barbed wire–enclosed compound pictures a mosquito flanked by a man and woman: Estos mosquitos genéticamente modificados requieren un manejo especial, it reads. We play by the rules.

Inside, cashew trees frame a cluster of gauzy mesh cages perched on a platform.

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Read/Write Your Own Genetic Code

Prof. George Church. Photo: Steve Jurvetson (CC)

Prof. George Church. Photo: Steve Jurvetson (CC)

Once home genetic engineering kits become standard can we expect home brew X-Men? BBC News‘ Karen Weintraub reports on some experiments at Harvard University that may signal the beginning of DIY genetic engineering:

You have to wonder what’s going on in the DNA of Harvard genetics professor George Church.

What extra bit of code does he have that the rest of us don’t? If genes tell the story of a person’s life, then some altered sequence of ‘A’s, ‘C’s, ‘G’s and ‘T’s must be at play, because his brain works like almost no one else’s.

About 30 years ago, Prof Church was one of a handful of people who dreamed up the idea of sequencing the entire human genome – every letter in the code that separates us from fruit flies as well as our parents. His lab was the first to come up with a machine to break that code, and he’s been working to improve it ever since.

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Monsanto Modified Corn Losing Bug Resistance

CornAgribusiness monster corporation Monsanto is in peril of creating a worse problem than it purports to solve with its genetically modified corn plants. Scott Kilman reports for the Wall Street Journal:

Widely grown corn plants that Monsanto Co. genetically modified to thwart a voracious bug are falling prey to that very pest in a few Iowa fields, the first time a major Midwest scourge has developed resistance to a genetically modified crop.

The discovery raises concerns that the way some farmers are using biotech crops could spawn superbugs.

Iowa State University entomologist Aaron Gassmann’s discovery that western corn rootworms in four northeast Iowa fields have evolved to resist the natural pesticide made by Monsanto’s corn plant could encourage some farmers to switch to insect-proof seeds sold by competitors of the St. Louis crop biotechnology giant, and to return to spraying harsher synthetic insecticides on their fields.

“These are isolated cases, and it isn’t clear how widespread the problem will become,” said Dr.

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South Korean Scientists Clone Beagle That Glows Fluorescent Green

Could Tegon, the glowing dog, be the key to finding cures for many human diseases? Via Reutuers:
South Korean scientists said on Wednesday they have created a glowing dog using a cloning technique that could help find cures for human diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, Yonhap news agency reported. A research team from Seoul National University (SNU) said the genetically modified female beagle, named Tegon and born in 2009, has been found to glow fluorescent green under ultraviolet light if given a doxycycline antibiotic, the report said.
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Scientist Warns That Roundup Ready GM Seeds Could Cause Crop Collapse

Roundup_herbicide_logo

The Institute of Science in Society‘s Dr. Mae-Wan Ho reports that a USDA senior scientist has sent an “emergency” warning to US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack regarding a new plant pathogen in Roundup Ready GM soybean and corn that may be responsible for high rates of infertility and spontaneous abortions in livestock:

An open letter appeared on the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance founded and run by Judith McGeary to save family farms in the US [1, 2]. The letter, written by Don Huber, professor emeritus at Purdue University, to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, warns of a pathogen “new to science” discovered by “a team of senior plant and animal scientists”. Huber says it should be treated as an “emergency’’, as it could result in “a collapse of US soy and corn export markets and significant disruption of domestic food and feed supplies.”

The letter appeared to have been written before Vilsack announced his decision to authorize unrestricted commercial planting of GM alfalfa on 1 February, in the hope of convincing the Secretary of Agriculture to impose a moratorium instead on deregulation of Roundup Ready (RR) crops.

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GMOs Linked to Organ Disruption in 19 Studies

GMOFrom Responsible Technology via Current:

A new paper shows that consuming genetically modified (GM) corn or soybeans leads to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice, particularly in livers and kidneys. By reviewing data from 19 animal studies, Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini and others reveal that 9% of the measured parameters, including blood and urine biochemistry, organ weights, and microscopic analyses (histopathology), were significantly disrupted in the GM-fed animals. The kidneys of males fared the worst, with 43.5% of all the changes.

The liver of females followed, with 30.8%. The report, published in Environmental Sciences Europe on March 1, 2011, confirms that “several convergent data appear to indicate liver and kidney problems as end points of GMO diet effects.” The authors point out that livers and kidneys “are the major reactive organs” in cases of chronic food toxicity.

“Other organs may be affected too, such as the heart and spleen, or blood cells,” stated the paper.

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Jon Rappaport Warns Of Alarming Future Trends In Genetic Engineering

On Thursday night, investigative reporter Jon Rappoport warned of alarming future trends in the genetic engineering of human beings. Based on his contacts with several scientists over a period of 20 years, he's concluded that human genetics research is basically a continuation of the Nazi eugenics program, and that medical research into genes as causes of human illness is simply a cover story. Part of this secret agenda, he detailed, is to demonstrate that people have genetic predispositions to certain diseases like cancer, so in the case of lawsuits, this argument can be made rather than placing blame for illness on environmental factors like pollution. In citing the book Remaking Eden, Rappoport noted that author Lee Silver foresees a time when the "gen-rich" (genetically enhanced class) will account for 10% of the population, while "naturals" will work as low paid service providers/laborers...
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After 20 Years, Nearly Everyone Still Wants GM Food To Be Labeled

GMOBy Rady Ananda at the Food Freedom blog:

At this MSNBC poll, over 40,000 people have voted strongly in favor of labeling genetically modified foods: 96% of all respondents.

But, a review of several polls going back to 1994 reveals that the numbers have always been high — the vast majority of people have always wanted GM labels. That biotech foods have remained unlabeled for nearly 20 years in the US reveals a deliberate and willful refusal by regulatory agencies to serve the will of the people, instead opting to abet industry profits through public deception.

The 96% rating from MSNBC’s casual survey does represent a jump from a scientific poll conducted in 2003 by University of Maine and The Ohio State University (and partly funded by the US Dept. of Agriculture), where 85% of respondents said they wanted GM foods labeled. Researchers also noted:

“Polls have emphasized that a majority of consumers in the United States (US) desire GMFs to be labeled (Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, 2001), and legislation has been entered at both the federal and state levels.

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Humanity 3.0: How Will We Evolve Next?

1561781181_be42e3aaacWriting in SEED Magazine, Mark Changizi expounds on his vision of human advancement in the centuries to come. He argues that the greatest progress will not come through changing our brains and bodies via genetic engineering or cyborg-like enhancement, but by developing technology that better accommodates the magnificently-designed brains and bodies that evolution has already given us:

Where are we humans going, as a species? If science fiction is any guide, we will genetically evolve like in X-Men, become genetically engineered as in Gattaca, or become cybernetically enhanced like General Grievous in Star Wars. All of these may well be part of the story of our future, but I’m not holding my breath.

There is, however, another avenue for human evolution, one mostly unappreciated in both science and fiction. It is this unheralded mechanism that will usher in the next stage of human, giving future people exquisite powers we do not currently possess, powers worthy of natural selection itself.

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You Can’t Avoid Genetically Engineered Foods

No matter how hard you try to avoid “food” that nature never intended, the U.S. government has made it almost impossible for its citizens to stay GM-free. Three more genetically engineered crops were approved in the last month alone. AP/USA Today tells the sorry story:

You may not want to eat genetically engineered foods. Chances are, you are eating them anyway.

Genetically modified plants grown from seeds engineered in labs now provide much of the food we eat. Most corn, soybean and cotton crops grown in the United States have been genetically modified to resist pesticides or insects, and corn and soy are common food ingredients.

USA. Genetically engineered crops timeline

The Agriculture Department has approved three more genetically engineered crops in the past month, and the Food and Drug Administration could approve fast-growing genetically modified salmon for human consumption this year.

Agribusiness and the seed companies say their products help boost crop production, lower prices at the grocery store and feed the world, particularly in developing countries.

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