Category: Science


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NGC 7252: Hubble Captures Image of Atoms for Peace Galaxy

Dec 7, 2015 by Sergio Prostak

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has produced this beautiful image of the inner parts of the distant galaxy NGC 7252.

This image shows the central regions of the peculiar galaxy NGC 7252. Image credit: NASA / ESA / Hubble / Judy Schmidt, www.geckzilla.com.

This image shows the central regions of the peculiar galaxy NGC 7252. Image credit: NASA / ESA / Hubble / Judy Schmidt, http://www.geckzilla.com.

NGC 7252, also known as LEDA 68612 or Arp 226, is a 12.7 magnitude peculiar galaxy in the constellation Aquarius.

It is about 212 million light-years distant and almost 200,000 light years across.

The galaxy has an odd nickname. In December 1953, President Eisenhower gave a speech that was dubbed Atoms for Peace.

The theme was promoting nuclear power for peaceful purposes – a particularly hot topic at the time.

This speech and the associated conference made waves in the scientific community and beyond to such an extent that NGC 7252 was named the Atoms for Peace galaxy.

This nickname is quite ironic, as the galaxy’s past was anything but peaceful.

Its peculiar appearance is the result of a collision between two similar gas-rich disc galaxies that took place about 600 million years ago, which ripped both galaxies apart.

The loop-like outer structures, likely made up of dust and stars flung outwards by the crash, but recalling orbiting electrons in an atom, are partly responsible for the galaxy’s nickname.

 

 

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…………………………………………………………..EurekAlert! Science News

Public Release: 1-Dec-2015

Viruses, too, are our fingerprint

University of Helsinki

EurekAlert! Science News

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IMAGE: The researchers document the presence of parvovirus DNA in the bones of Finnish World War II casualties who remained exposed to diverse climatic conditions in former Finnish, current Russian territory,… view more

Credit: Veikko Somerpuro / University of Helsinki

 

A group of researchers from the University of Helsinki and the University of Edinburgh have been the first to find the genetic material of a human virus from old human bones. Published in the journal Scientific Reports, the study analyzed the skeletal remains of Second World War casualties from the battlefields of Karelia.

Upon infection, many viruses remain in the tissues and their DNA can be analyzed even decades thereafter. Although their genetic material has been found in many organs, the researchers show that viral DNA is also present in bone.

“Human tissue is like a life-long archive that stores the fingerprint of the viruses that an individual has encountered during his or her lifetime,” describes Klaus Hedman, professor of clinical virology.

The finding has important implications since bone is most likely to be preserved after death, thus opening the door to the study of the viruses that caused infections in the past. In a publication in Scientific Reports, the researchers show that this is indeed the case. They document the presence of parvovirus DNA in the bones of Finnish World War II casualties who remained exposed to diverse climatic conditions in former Finnish, current Russian territory, until recent years when they were repatriated to their homeland.

 

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The New American

 

Friday, 04 December 2015

At UN Summit, Obama Blames America for Global Warming

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Speaking at a United Nations “climate” summit in Paris, Obama blamed America for alleged man-made global warming and claimed that the nation embraces its responsibility to “do something” about the alleged problem. That “something,” of course, at least in the administration’s view, involves redistributing the wealth of embattled U.S. taxpayers to Third World governments and dictatorships for climate reparations, as well as shackling the American economy with draconian controls to reduce emissions of what serious scientists know as the “gas of life.” Sounding like a wannabe messiah, Obama even claimed that “we finally determined we would save our planet.” However, lawmakers in Congress and the American people have made clear that they neither believe in the increasingly discredited anthropogenic global-warming (AGW) theory nor in the alleged solutions to the supposed problem.

Dictators and other heads of state have typically arrived at UN conferences toward the end of the show. This time, however, hoping desperately to secure a global “climate” agreement where past summits have failed, UN organizers decided Obama and other “world leaders” should show up at the start. Obama complied, spewing gargantuan amounts of CO2 and arriving in Paris to deliver various speeches hyping the AGW theory, along with illegal pledges to hand out your money. “I’ve come here personally, as the leader of the world’s largest economy and the second-largest emitter, to say that the United States of America not only recognizes our role in creating this problem, we embrace our responsibility to do something about it,” Obama claimed at the ongoing conference, which featured some 150 dictators and heads of government and state.

Of course, Obama is not the “leader” of the “world’s largest economy.” His job description is to serve as the chief executive of the federal government, to faithfully execute the laws, and to uphold and defend the Constitution. His other claims were even more ludicrous. For instance, the notion that America recognizes its alleged role in creating the alleged problem could not be more wrong. According to a Pew survey released last year, just 40 percent of Americans even believe the increasingly discredited AGW theory. And without a doubt, far less than that would agree that the nation should shackle its economy and redistribute its wealth to Third World regimes under the guise of dealing with a problem that the overwhelming majority of Americans do not even believe exists.

Obama also apparently sought to deceive his fellow rulers by touting his unconstitutional and illegitimate decrees, without noting that the American people’s elected representatives, state governments, and the courts are currently in the process of dismantling those decrees. “Over the last seven years, we’ve made ambitious investments in clean energy, and ambitious reductions in our carbon emissions,” he told the UN and its member regimes, touting half-baked, taxpayer-funded “renewable energy” schemes imposed by the federal government (such as the now-bankrupt crony solar company Solyndra, which put huge sums of taxpayer funds into the pockets of Obama donors). Obama also touted his rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline and the “the first-ever set of national standards” purporting to regulate what Obama referred to as “carbon pollution.”

 

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Obama blames America for non-existent global warming

September 24, 2014 6:52 AM MST
Barack Obama speaks at U.N. climate summit.

Barack Obama speaks at U.N. climate summit.
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

 

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FULL Speech HD: Barack Obama at Paris Climate Conference (Cop21)

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Published on Nov 30, 2015

FULL Speech HD: Barack Obama to give final statement on last day in Paris (Cop21) chttps://youtu.be/Nq5oG6kIIPA

 

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US President Barack Obama holds news conference at Paris Climate Summit – COP21

 

NOAA Scientists In Standoff With Congress Over Climate Study – Newsy

 

 

 

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July 27, 2015

by Rob Wallace

The notion of a neoliberal Ebola is so beyond the pale as to send leading lights in ecology and health into apoplectic fits.

Here’s one of bestseller David Quammen’s five tweets denouncing my hypothesis that neoliberalism drove the emergence of Ebola in West Africa. I’m an “addled guy” whose “loopy [blog] post” and “confused nonsense” Quammen hopes “doesn’t mislead credulous people.”

Scientific American’s Steve Mirksy joked that he feared “the supply-side salmonella”. He would walk that back when I pointed out the large literature documenting the ways and means by which the economics of the egg sector is driving salmonella’s evolution.

The facts of the Ebola outbreak similarly turn Quammen’s objection on its head.

Guinea Forest Region in 2014

Guinea Forest Region in 2014 (Photo Credit Daniel Bausch)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The virus appears to have been spilling over for years in West Africa. Epidemiologist Joseph Fair’s group found antibodies to multiple species of Ebola, including the very Zaire strain that set off the outbreak, in patients in Sierra Leone as far back as five years ago. Phylogenetic analyses meanwhile show the Zaire strain Bayesian-dated in West Africa as far back as a decade.

An NIAID team showed the outbreak strain as possessing no molecular anomaly, with nucleotide substitution rates typical of Ebola outbreaks across Africa.

That result begs an explanation for Ebola’s ecotypic shift from intermittent forest killer to a protopandemic infection infecting 27,000 and killing over 11,000 across the region, leaving bodies in the streets of capital cities Monrovia and Conakry.

Explaining the rise of Ebola

The answer, little explored in the scientific literature or the media, appears in the broader context in which Ebola emerged in West Africa.

The truth of the whole, in this case connecting disease dynamics, land use and global economics, routinely suffers at the expense of the principle of expediency. Such contextualization often represents a threat to many of the underlying premises of power.

In the face of such an objection, it was noted that the structural adjustment to which West Africa has been subjected the past decade included the kinds of divestment from public health infrastructure that permitted Ebola to incubate at the population level once it spilled over.

The effects, however, extend even farther back in the causal chain. The shifts in land use in the Guinea Forest Region from where the Ebola epidemic spread were also connected to neoliberal efforts at opening the forest to global circuits of capital.

Daniel Bausch and Lara Schwarz characterize the Forest Region, where the virus emerged, as a mosaic of small and isolated populations of a variety of ethnic groups that hold little political power and receive little social investment. The forest’s economy and ecology are also strained by thousands of refugees from civil wars in neighboring countries.

The Region is subjected to the tandem trajectories of accelerating deterioration in public infrastructure and concerted efforts at private development dispossessing smallholdings and traditional foraging grounds for mining, clear-cut logging, and increasingly intensified agriculture.

The Ebola hot zone as a whole comprises a part of the larger Guinea Savannah Zone the World Bank describes as “one of the largest underused agricultural land reserves in the world.” Africa hosts 60% of the world’s last farmland frontier. And the Bank sees the Savannah best developed by market commercialization, if not solely on the agribusiness model.

As the Land Matrix Observatory documents, such prospects are in the process of being actualized. There, one can see the 90 deals by which U.S.-backed multinationals have procured hundreds of thousands of hectares for export crops, biofuels and mining around the world, including multiple deals in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Observatory’s online database shows similar land deals pursued by other world powers, including the UK, France, and China.

Under the newly democratized Guinean government, the Nevada-based and British-backed Farm Land of Guinea Limited secured 99-year leases for two parcels totaling nearly 9000 hectares outside the villages of N’Dema and Konindou in Dabola Prefecture, where a secondary Ebola epicenter developed, and 98,000 hectares outside the village of Saraya in Kouroussa Prefecture. The Ministry of Agriculture has now tasked Farm Land Inc to survey and map an additional 1.5 million hectares for third-party development.

While these as of yet undeveloped acquisitions are not directly tied to Ebola, they are markers of a complex, policy-driven phase change in agroecology that our group hypothesizes undergirds Ebola’s emergence.

The role of palm oil in West Africa

Our thesis orbits around palm oil, in particular.

Palm is a vegetable oil of highly saturated fats derived from the red mesocarp of the African oil palm tree now grown around the world. The fruit’s kernel also produces its own oil. Refined and fractionated into a variety of byproducts, both oils are used in an array of food, cosmetic and cleaning products, as well as in some biodiesels. With the abandonment of trans fats, palm oil represents a growing market, with global exports totaling nearly 44 million metric tons in the 2014 growing season.

Oil palm plantations, covering more than 17 million hectares worldwide, are tied to deforestation and expropriation of lands from indigenous groups. We see from this Food and Agriculture Organization map that while most of the production can be found in Asia, particularly in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, most of the suitable land left for palm oil can be found in the Amazon and the Congo Basin, the two largest rainforests in the world.

Palm oil represents a classic case of Lauderdale’s paradox. As environmental resources are destroyed what’s left becomes more valuable. A decaying resource base, then, is no due cause for agribusiness turning into good global citizens, as industry-funded advocates have argued. On the contrary, agribusiness seeks exclusive access to our now fiscally appreciating, if ecologically declining, landscapes.

Food production didn’t start that way in West Africa, of course.

Natural and semi-wild groves of different oil palm types have long served as a source of red palm oil in the Guinea Forest Region. Forest farmers have been raising palm oil in one or another form for hundreds of years. Fallow periods allowing soils to recover, however, were reduced over the 20th century from 20 years in the 1930s to 10 by the 1970s, and still further by the 2000s, with the added effect of increasing grove density. Concomitantly, semi-wild production has been increasingly replaced with intensive hybrids, and red oil replaced by, or mixed with, industrial and kernel oils.

Other crops are grown too, of course. Regional shade agriculture includes coffee, cocoa and kola. Slash-and-burn rice, maize, hibiscus, and corms of the first year, followed by peanut and cassava of the second and a fallow period, are rotated through the agroforest. Lowland flooding supports rice. In essence, we see a move toward increased intensification without private capital but still classifiable as agroforestry.

But even this kind of farming has since been transformed.

The Guinean Oil Palm and Rubber Company (with the French acronym SOGUIPAH) began in 1987 as a parastatal cooperative in the Forest but since has grown to the point it is better characterized a state company. It is leading efforts that began in 2006 to develop plantations of intensive hybrid palm for commodity export. SOGUIPAH economized palm production for the market by forcibly expropriating farmland, which to this day continues to set off violent protest.

International aid has accelerated industrialization. SOGUIPAH’s new mill, with four times the capacity of one it previously used, was financed by the European Investment Bank.

The mill’s capacity ended the artisanal extraction that as late as 2010 provided local populations full employment. The subsequent increase in seasonal production has at one and the same time led to harvesting above the mill’s capacity and operation below capacity off-season, leading to a conflict between the company and some of its 2000 now partially proletarianized pickers, some of whom insist on processing a portion of their own yield to cover the resulting gaps in cash flow. Pickers who insist on processing their own oil during the rainy season now risk arrest.

The new economic geography has also initiated a classic case of land expropriation and enclosure, turning a tradition of shared forest commons toward expectations whereby informal pickers working fallow land outside their family lineage obtain an owner’s permission before picking palm.

Palm oil and Ebola

What does all this have to do with Ebola?

Fig. 1 Palm Oil and Ebola

Fig. 1 Palm Oil and Ebola

The figure at top left (of Fig. 1) shows an archipelago of oil palm plots in the Guéckédou area, the outbreak’s apparent ground zero. The characteristic landscape is a mosaic of villages surrounded by dense vegetation and interspersed by crop fields of oil palm (in red) and patches of open forest and regenerated young forest.

The general pattern can be discerned at a finer scale as well, above, west of the town of Meliandou, where the index cases appeared.

The landscape embodies a growing interface between humans and frugivore bats, a key Ebola reservoir, including hammer-headed bats, little collared fruit bats and Franquet’s epauletted fruit bats.

Nur Juliani Shafie and colleagues document a variety of disturbance-associated fruit bats attracted to oil palm plantations. Bats migrate to oil palm for food and shelter from the heat while the plantations’ wide trails also permit easy movement between roosting and foraging sites.

Bats aren’t stupid. As the forest disappears they shift their foraging behavior to what food and shelter are left.

Bush meat hunting and butchery are one means by which subsequent spillover may take place. But to move away from the kinds of Western ooga booga epidemiology that wraps outbreaks in such ‘dirty’ cultural cloth, agricultural cultivation may be enough. Fruit bats in Bangladesh transmitted Nipah virus to human hosts by urinating on the date fruit humans cultivated.

Almudena Marí Saéz and colleagues have since proposed the initial Ebola spillover occurred outside Meliandou when children, including the putative index case, caught and played with Angolan free-tailed bats in a local tree. The bats are an insectivore species also previously documented as an Ebola virus carrier.

Whatever the specific reservoir source, shifts in agroeconomic context still appear a primary cause. Previous studies show the free-tailed bats also attracted to expanding cash crop production in West Africa, including of sugar cane, cotton, and macadamia.

Indeed, every Ebola outbreak appears connected to capital-driven shifts in land use, including back to the first outbreak in Nzara, Sudan in 1976, where a British-financed factory spun and wove local cotton. When Sudan’s civil war ended in 1972, the area rapidly repopulated and much of the local rainforest—and bat ecology—was reclaimed for subsistence farming, with cotton returning as the area’s dominant cash crop.

Are New York, London and Hong Kong as much to blame?

Clearly such outbreaks aren’t merely about specific companies.

We have started working with University of Washington’s Luke Bergmann to test whether the world’s circuits of capital as they relate to husbandry and land use are related to disease emergence. Bergmann and Holmberg’s maps, still in preparation, show the percent of land whose harvests are consumed abroad as agricultural goods or in manufactured goods and services for croplands, pastureland and forests.

The maps show landscapes are globalized by circuits of capital. In this way, the source of a disease may be more than merely the country in which it may first appear and indeed may extend as far as the other side of the world. We need to identify who funded the development and deforestation to begin with.

Such an epidemiology begs whether we might more accurately characterize such places as New York, London and Hong Kong, key sources of capital, as disease ‘hot spots’ in their own right. Diseases are relational in their geographies, and not solely absolute, as the ecohealth cowboys chronicled by David Quammen claim.

Similarly, such a new approach ruins the neat dichotomy between emergency responses and structural interventions.

Some disease hounds who acknowledge global structural issues tend to still focus on the immediate logistics of any given outbreak. Emergency responses are needed, of course. But we need to acknowledge that the emergency arose from the structural. Indeed, such emergencies are used as a means by which to avoid talking about the bigger picture driving the emergence of new diseases.

The forest may be its own cure

There’s another false dichotomy to unpack—this one between the forest’s ecosystemic noise and deterministic effect.

The environmental stochasticity at the center of forest ecology isn’t synonymous with random noise.

Here a bit of math can help. A simple stochastic differential model of exponential pathogen population growth can include fractional white noise of an index 0 to 1 defined by a covariance relationship across time and space. An Ito expansion produces a classic result in population growth:

When below a threshold, the noise exponent is small enough to permit a pathogen population to explode in size. When above the threshold, the noise is large enough to control an outbreak, frustrating efforts on the part of the pathogen to string together a bunch of susceptibles to infect.

Never mind the technical details. The important point is that disease trajectories, even in the deepest forest, aren’t divorced from their anthropogenic context. That context can impact upon the forest’s environmental noise and its effects on disease.

How exactly in Ebola’s case?

It’s been long known that if you can lower an outbreak below an infection Allee threshold—say by a vaccine or sanitary practices—an outbreak, not finding enough susceptibles, can burn out on its own. But commoditizing the forest may have lowered the region’s ecosystemic threshold to such a point where no emergency intervention can drive the Ebola outbreak low enough to burn out on its own. The virus will continue to circulate, with the potential to explode again.

In short, neoliberalism’s structural shifts aren’t just a background on which the emergency of Ebola takes place. The shifts are the emergency as much as the virus itself.

In contrast to Nassim Taleb’s Black Swan—history as shit happens—we have here an example of stochasticity’s impact arising out of deterministic agroeconomic policy—a phenomenon I’ve taken to calling the Red Swan.

Here, sudden switches in land use may explain Ebola’s emergence. Deforestation and intensive agriculture strip out traditional agroforestry’s stochastic friction that until this point had kept the virus from stringing together enough transmission.

Under certain conditions, the forest may act as its own epidemiological protection. We risk the next deadly pandemic when we destroy that capacity.

Rob Wallace is an evolutionary biologist and public health phylogeographer currently visiting the Institute of Global Studies at the University of Minnesota. He also blogs at Farming Pathogens.

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Monarch Butterfly Populations Are Rising Again After Years In Decline

 

Credit: Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

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This year, we have published several stories about the dwindling monarch butterfly populations and some of the efforts that have been made to save the species. New reports last week have indicated that these efforts may actually be paying off, because Monarch populations are actually beginning to grow again. In Mexico, one of the main breeding areas for these butterflies, scientists believe that this year there will be at least three times as many of them this year than there was last year.

During a recent conference at the Piedra Herrada research reserve, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said that Mexico and the US will be working together to create pesticide-free zones for the butterflies to flourish.

“Mexico, the U.S., and Canada have many species that don’t know our political borders, that cross the borders freely,” she said during a conference at the Piedra Herrada research reserve, adding that the three countries will be working together to rebuild the populations.

She told the audience that they hope to see “225 million monarch butterflies returning right here to Mexico every year. We believe we can get there by working together and it sounds like we may be on our way, we hope.”

“We are very glad to report that calculations done before the landfall of Hurricane Patricia showed the monarch presence could cover up to four hectares, a clear indication that the efforts mentioned by Secretary Jewell are having a positive effect,” Environment Secretary Rafael Pacchiano said.

“We estimate that the butterfly population that arrives at the reserve is as much as three and could reach four times the surface area it occupied last season,” he added.

For years, environmental experts have been warning about the steady decline of monarch butterfly populations. The causes of this decline have been largely speculation until recently, but a new report suggests that Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup Ready could be responsible.

The report was recently released by US environment watchdog Center for Food Safety and sheds new light on what has been happening with monarch butterfly populations.

According to the report, Monsanto’s herbicide has wiped out 99 percent of milkweed in corn and soybean fields in the US Midwest since 1999.

This has resulted in a decline of nearly 90 percent in monarch butterfly populations in the past 20 years.

Without the milkweed, the butterfly’s food supply is entirely cut out because caterpillars eat only milkweed plants, and then milkweed is needed again when it is time for the butterfly to lay their eggs.

Although this is a very serious problem, it is something that the average person can help to solve. Anyone with some space in their lawn or garden can plant milkweed to help reverse the trend that Monsanto started.

Below are some PDF guides which give you step by step instructions on how to plant milkweed and create habitats for monarch butterflies:

  1. Planting Native Milkweed Species
  2. Avoiding Non-Native Species
  3. Create Habitat for Monarchs
  4. Gardening for Monarchs

 

John Vibes is an author and researcher who organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference. He also has a publishing company where he offers a censorship free platform for both fiction and non-fiction writers. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can purchase his books, or get your own book published at his website www.JohnVibes.com. This article (Monarch Butterfly Populations Are Rising Again After Years In Decline) was made available via

True Activist

True Activist Exposing the truth one lie at a time

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Activist Post

Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Program

Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity from Microwave Technology Finally Medically Proven

wifi emfsBy Catherine J. Frompovich

Finally, there’s documented medical proof that electromagnetic hypersensitivity is a real-time health issue that actually can be verified using standard medical procedures and testing capabilities.

An international group of researchers aced it when they published their findings from the clinical study “Metabolic and Genetic Screening of Electromagnetic Hypersensitive Subjects as a Feasible Tool for Diagnostics and Intervention” in the November 2014 issue of Mediators of Inflammation.

So, the million-dollar-question has to be, “When will utility companies get up to speed on the latest in microwave technology damage to the human body?” Also, “When will public utility commissions nationwide institute proper procedures to protect consumers from such damage?”

Pennsylvanians currently are being bombarded by non-thermal health problems from public utility companies’ electric, natural gas and water Smart Meters, which operate using microwave technology.

Furthermore, the PA House Consumer Affairs Committee Chair Robert Godshall sits on Opt-Out Bills that will permit electrosensitive consumers and others to keep safe analog meters, which have been in use for decades.

 

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The Telegraph

 

Wild chimpanzee observed caring for disabled infant in ‘first case of its kind’

Wild chimpanzee observed caring for disabled infant in ‘first case of its kind’

A wild chimp has been observed caring for its disabled daughter  Photo: AFP / Getty / Michio Nakamura

For the first time in the wild scientists claim to have observed a female chimpanzee caring for an infant with severe disabilities.

A team of researchers from Japan’s Kyoto University studied a mother providing care for her daughter living in the Mahale Mountains National Park in Tanzania over a two-year period.

The infant, known as XT11, was born at the park in 2011 and displayed symptoms resembling Down’s syndrome seen in other chimps in captivity.

She lived for 23 months and researchers doubt she would have stayed alive for so long without the help and care of her mother and sister.

Michio Nakamura, an associate professor at the university, told the Japan Times: “She had a fish look and kept her mouth half-open, so we assumed she had some kind of mental handicap.”

Scientists observed the chimps for nearly two years

“The observed infant exhibited symptoms resembling Down syndrome, similar to those reported previously for a captive chimpanzee,” researchers found in the study detailed in the international journal, Primates.

 

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The Telegraph

First genetically modified humans could exist within two years

Biotech company Editas Medicine is planning to start human trials to genetically edit genes and reverse blindness

Humans who have had their DNA genetically modified could exist within two years after a private biotech company announced plans to start the first trials into a ground-breaking new technique.

Editas Medicine, which is based in the US, said it plans to become the first lab in the world to ‘genetically edit’ the DNA of patients suffering from a genetic condition – in this case the blinding disorder ‘leber congenital amaurosis’.

The disorder prevents normal function of the retina; the light-sensitive layer of cells at the back of the eye. It appears at birth or in the first months of life and eventually sufferers can go completely blind.

“Hereditary eye disease in an obvious place to start given that there is already precedent in classical gene therapy”
Professor Darren Griffin, University of Kent

The rare inherited disease is caused by defects in a gene which instructs the creation of a protein that is essential to vision.

But scientists at Editas Medicine in the US believe they can fix the mutated DNA using the ground-breaking gene-editing technology Crispr.

Katrine Bosley, the chief executive of Editas Medicine, told a conference in the US that the company hopes to start trialling the technology on blind patients in 2017.

It would be the first time the technology has been used on humans. Gene editing is currently banned in the US, so the company would need special permission from health regulators.

“It feels fast, but we are going at the pace science allows,” Bosley told the EmTech conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

 

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New Scientist

Daily news

4 November 2015

Most of Earth's mass extinctions caused by… mineral deficiencies

Image credit: Sheila Terry/SPL

Are you getting enough minerals? A new theory suggests most of Earth’s mass extinction events could have been caused by a lack of essential trace elements in the world’s oceans, causing fatal deficiencies in marine animals, from plankton to reptiles.

Earth has been hit with five mass extinction events. The two most dramatic ones had pretty clear causes. The dinosaurs were probably wiped out 66 million years ago thanks to a massive meteor falling on modern-day Mexico, while the end-Permian extinction, which wiped out 90 per cent of species 252 million years ago, was probably the result of massive volcanoes in Siberia.

But that leaves three other mass extinctions, with no agreed cause.

“It’s a complex scenario,” says John Long from Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia. He says there are probably a lot of causes conspiring to drive these mass extinctions. But his latest work suggests fluctuations in essential minerals in the ocean could be an important, and so-far completely unexplored, cause.

Essential selenium

Earlier this year, researchers discovered that periods when the ocean had high levels of trace elements – like zinc, copper, manganese and selenium – seemed to overlap with periods of high productivity, including the Cambrian explosion, when most groups of living animals first appeared.

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Natural Blaze

Two New GE Pigs Want to Go To the Market

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By Heather Callaghan

Did you think the genetically modified pig was gone? It is true that Canada’s “Enviro Pig” was scrapped in 2012 after consumer backlash and lack of university funding. That vacancy mainly left genetically modified salmon in the running to become the very first commercial GM animal.

But there are two new types of engineered pigs poised for approval in their respective countries. Now, with the secret Trans Pacific Partnership out in the open, it becomes clear that the deal opens the door for a swarm of global biotech ventures that can more easily glide their wares across country boundaries.

Whereas Enviro Pig’s genetic splicing was supposedly intended to cut down on phosphorous waste that kills waterways, two more pigs are vying for public acceptance.

It’s important to note that these animals aren’t “transgenic” like many of the GE crops on the market. That is, they do not contain genes from other species or kingdoms like bacteria. Biotech involves more than GMOs, and some methods currently fall outside of regulation or definition. However, we are still talking genetic engineering.

CBC News reports on them:

  • Bruce Whitelaw and his colleagues at the University of Edinburgh are developing a pig resistant to African swine fever, a devastating disease with no vaccine or cure that has led to hundreds of pigs being slaughtered in Europe to prevent its spread.
  • Jinsu Kim and his colleagues at Seoul National University have developed “double-muscle” pigs that produce twice as much muscle as a regular pig, resulting in higher protein, lower fat pork.

 

Read More Here

 

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CBC News

Genetically modified pigs raise concerns about food regulation

Regulatory system lacks transparency, critics say

CBC News Posted: Nov 03, 2015 11:50 AM ETLast Updated: Nov 04, 2015 8:59 AM ET

Two kinds of genetically modified pigs are on their way to becoming pork on our dinner plates. If they do, they'll be some of the very first genetically modified animals to enter our food system.

Two kinds of genetically modified pigs are on their way to becoming pork on our dinner plates. If they do, they’ll be some of the very first genetically modified animals to enter our food system. (Laszlo Balogh/Reuters)

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The Current: GMO pigs’ cautionary tale of genetically modified food research 24:43


Two kinds of genetically modified pigs are on their way to becoming pork on our dinner plates. If they do, they’ll be some of the very first genetically modified animals to enter our food system, along with genetically modified salmon that is also trying to gain regulatory approval.

But consumers are wary and lack confidence in governments’ readiness to regulate this new class of food product, researchers and activists say.

The genetically modified pigs under development are designed to improve pork production in different ways:

  • Bruce Whitelaw and his colleagues at the University of Edinburgh are developing a pig resistant to African swine fever, a devastating disease with no vaccine or cure that has led to hundreds of pigs being slaughtered in Europe to prevent its spread.
  • Jinsu Kim and his colleagues at Seoul National University have developed “double-muscle” pigs that produce twice as much muscle as a regular pig, resulting in higher protein, lower fat pork.

In both cases, researchers have precisely targeted an individual pig gene to create a mutation that turns up or turns down certain genes. The African swine fever resistant pig has an immune gene that is slightly more like a warthog’s. The double-muscle pig has a mutation similar to one produced by normal breeding in a muscly cow breed called the Belgian blue.

The pigs aren’t “transgenic” — that is, they don’t contain genes from other organisms. That makes them unlike some genetically modified crops already on the market, which may contain genes from organisms such as bacteria.

 

Read More Here

 

 

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