Tag Archives | Genetic Engineering

Should We Clone Neanderthals?

Reconstruction of Neanderthal man. Hermann Schaaffhausen (1888).

Reconstruction of Neanderthal man. Hermann Schaaffhausen (1888).

From the recent March/April issue of Archaeology. Zach Zorich writes:

If Neanderthals ever walk the earth again, the primordial ooze from which they will rise is an emulsion of oil, water, and DNA capture beads engineered in the laboratory of 454 Life Sciences in Branford, Connecticut. Over the past 4 years those beads have been gathering tiny fragments of DNA from samples of dissolved organic materials, including pieces of Neanderthal bone. Genetic sequences have given paleoanthropologists a new line of evidence for testing ideas about the biology of our closest extinct relative.

The first studies of Neanderthal DNA focused on the genetic sequences of mitochondria, the microscopic organelles that convert food to energy within cells. In 2005, however, 454 began a collaborative project with the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, to sequence the full genetic code of a Neanderthal woman who died in Croatia’s Vindija cave 30,000 years ago.

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Who Owns You? 20% of the Genes in Your Body are Patented (Video)

Who Owns You?Drew Halley writes on Singularity Hub:
Here’s a disconcerting thought: for the past thirty years, genes have been patentable. And we’re not just talking genetically modified corn — your genes, pretty much as they exist in your body, can and have been patented. The US government reports over three million gene patent applications have been filed so far; over 40,000 patents are held on sections of the human genome, covering roughly 20% of our genes. Upset? You’re not alone. Critics argue that the patents stifle potential research into disease, keep new treatments off the market, and bring in serious money to Big Pharma — all by exercising property claims that shouldn’t exist. After all, genes aren’t inventions, which are patentable — they’re discoveries, which aren’t. Singularity Hub recently interviewed Dr. David Koepsell ... His book Who Owns You? is currently being adapted into a documentary film, including interviews with experts like James Watson and Tim Hubbard. Check out the preview:
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Genetically Modified Canola ‘Escapes’ Farm Fields

CanolaPlant

Photo: Heather LeMoine/North Dakota Tourism

Geoffrey Brumfiel reports for NPR:

Genetically modified crops are commonplace in fields across the United States, but a new study suggests that some plants have spread into the wild. A survey of North Dakota has turned up hundreds of genetically modified canola plants growing along roads across the state.

The results, presented Friday at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Pittsburgh, show that the vast majority of feral canola plants in the state contain artificial genes that make them resistant to herbicides. Researchers also found two plants that contained traits from multiple genetically modified varieties, suggesting that genetically modified plants are breeding in the wild.

“What we’ve demonstrated in this study is a large-scale escape of a genetically modified crop in the United States,” says Cindy Sagers, an ecologist at the University of Arkansas, who led the study.

Canola plants are used in cooking oil and animal feed, as well as some forms of biodiesel, and nearly all of America’s canola is grown in North Dakota.

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Genetically Modified Salmon Near FDA Approval

Photo: Atlantic salmon

Photo: Atlantic salmon

While most people are wondering what will happen to the fishing industry in the Gulf, Massachucettes geneticists are raising quick-growing Atlantic salmon.  Les Blumenthal of McClatchy Newspapers writes:

WASHINGTON — They may not be the 500-pound “Frankenfish” that some researchers were talking about 10 years ago, but a Massachusetts company says it’s on the verge of receiving federal approval to market a quick-growing Atlantic salmon that’s been genetically modified with help from a Pacific Chinook salmon.

Though genetically engineered crops such as corn and soybeans have been part of the American diet for several years, if the Food and Drug Administration approves it, the salmon would be the first transgenic animal headed for the dinner table.

“I would serve it to my kids,” said Val Giddings, who worked as a geneticist at the U.S. Agriculture Department for a decade before becoming a private consultant.

The financial rewards could be enormous.

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Scientists Develop ‘Fake’ Genetically-Engineered Blood for Use on the Battlefield

BattlefieldNiall Firth in the Daily Mail writes:

American scientists have developed ‘artificial’ blood that could soon be used to treat wounded soldiers in battle.

The genetically-engineered blood is created by taking cells from umbilical cords and using a machine to mimic the way bone marrow works to produce mass quantities of usable units of red blood cells.

Known as ‘blood pharming’ the programme was launched in 2008 by the Pentagon’s experimental arm, Darpa, to create blood to treat soldiers in far-flung battlefields.

The firm Arteriocyte, which received $1.95 million for the project, has now sent off its first shipment of O-negative blood to the food and drugs watchdog in the US, the FDA.

Read more: Daily Mail

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Genetically Altered Salmon Moves Toward Approval In U.S.

Guess which one is genetically altered... Source: AquaBounty

Guess which one is genetically altered... Source: AquaBounty

What do we have to do to stop this madness? No doubt the U.S. Government will decide that there’s no need to tell people if the salmon we’re served or sold is a genetically-altered Frankenfood. From the New York Times:

The Food and Drug Administration is seriously considering whether to approve the first genetically engineered animal that people would eat — salmon that can grow at twice the normal rate.

The developer of the salmon has been trying to get approval for a decade. But the company now seems to have submitted most or all of the data the F.D.A. needs to analyze whether the salmon are safe to eat, nutritionally equivalent to other salmon and safe for the environment, according to government and biotechnology industry officials. A public meeting to discuss the salmon may be held as early as this fall.

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One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Fluorescent Fish

There’s an old myth that if you breed a goldfish in the dark it will eventually glow iPhoto: Nonfluorescent convict cichlidn the dark.  But Taiwan has figured out a way to make a fish glow by changing its genetics.

Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture exhibited the newest success in transgenic modification last week with the showing of fluorescent convict cichlids.  Convict cichlids, commonly known as zebra cichlids, have been successfully bred through five generations.  After sevens years of research and experimentation, there is still another year left of tests to insure that the fish are able to survive in a natural environment without causing harmful side effects.

Business is already in the works for these fish to be transferred to private companies with the intent of commercial marketing.  It is predicted that this new breed will be on the ornamental fish markets as early as next year. See video clip below:

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GM Food Dangers With Jeffrey Smith (Video, Part 1)

Author and filmmaker Jeffrey Smith discussed the dangers of eating genetically modified (GM) foods, and how the biotech industry has tried to cover up negative reports. The stakes are high right now, with a Supreme Court battle over approval of genetically modified alfalfa, and the Dept. of Justice combined with the Dept. of Agriculture investigating if Monsanto is a monopoly, he reported.
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Genetically Modified Soy Linked to Sterility, Infant Mortality in Hamsters

hamster

Photo: Bamboopidge (CC)

Jeffrey Smith, author and founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology, writing at Huffington Post:

“This study was just routine,” said Russian biologist Alexey V. Surov, in what could end up as the understatement of this century. Surov and his colleagues set out to discover if Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) soy, grown on 91% of US soybean fields, leads to problems in growth or reproduction. What he discovered may uproot a multi-billion dollar industry.

After feeding hamsters for two years over three generations, those on the GM diet, and especially the group on the maximum GM soy diet, showed devastating results. By the third generation, most GM soy-fed hamsters lost the ability to have babies. They also suffered slower growth, and a high mortality rate among the pups.

And if this isn’t shocking enough, some in the third generation even had hair growing inside their mouths—a phenomenon rarely seen, but apparently more prevalent among hamsters eating GM soy.

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Russia Says Genetically Modified Foods Are Harmful

GMOFrom The Voice of Russia:

Russia has started the annual Days of Defence against Environmental Hazards from the 15th of April to the 5th of June with the announcement of sensational results of an independent work of research. Scientists have proved that Genetically Modified Organisms are harmful for mammals. The researchers discovered that animals that eat GM foodstuffs lose their ability to reproduce. Campbell hamsters that have a fast reproduction rate were fed for two years with ordinary soya beans, which are widely used in agriculture and those contain different percentages of GM organisms. Another group of hamsters, the control group, was fed with pure soya, which was found with great difficulty in Serbia because 95 percent of soya in the world is transgenic.

Concerning the experiment carried out jointly by the National Association for Gene Security and the Institute of Ecological and Evolutional Problems, Dr. Alexei Surov has this to say.

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