Posts Tagged ‘Biotech’

Three Approved GMOs Linked to Organ Damage

dissidentvoice.org | Jan 3, 2010

by Rady Ananda

In what is being described as the first ever and most comprehensive study of the effects of genetically modified foods on mammalian health, researchers have linked organ damage with consumption of Monsanto’s GM maize.

CNN | Mar 22, 2010

By Tom Watkins

About 1 million children in the United States and about 30 million worldwide have gotten Rotarix vaccine, the FDA says.

(CNN) — Federal health authorities recommended Monday that doctors suspend using Rotarix, one of two vaccines licensed in the United States against rotavirus, saying the vaccine is contaminated with material from a pig virus.

“There is no evidence at this time that this material poses a safety risk,” Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg told reporters in a conference call.

Rotarix, made by GlaxoSmithKline, was approved by the FDA in 2008. The contaminant material is DNA from porcine circovirus 1, a virus from pigs that is not known to cause disease in humans or animals, Hamburg said.

About 1 million children in the United States and about 30 million worldwide have gotten Rotarix vaccine, she said.

Raw Story | Apr 2nd, 2010

In what is being hailed as a major victory for workers in the biotech and nanotech fields, a former scientist with pharmaceutical firm Pfizer has been awarded $1.37 million for being fired after raising the alarm over researchers being infected with a genetically engineered “AIDS-like” virus.

Becky McClain, a molecular biologist from Deep River, Connecticut, filed a lawsuit against Pfizer in 2007, claiming she had been wrongly terminated for complaining about faulty safety equipment that allowed a “dangerous lentivirus” to infect her and some of her colleagues.

The Hartford Courant describes the virus as “similar to the one that can lead to acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS.” Health experts testified that the virus has affected the way McClain’s body processes potassium, which they say causes McClain to suffer complete paralysis as often as a dozen times per month, the Courant reports.

McClain’s lawsuit (PDF) asserted that Pfizer had interfered with her right to free speech, and that she should have been protected from retaliation by whistleblower legislation.

NYTimes:

A federal judge on Monday struck down patents on two genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer. The decision, if upheld, could throw into doubt the patents covering thousands of human genes and reshape the law of intellectual property.

United States District Court Judge Robert W. Sweet issued the 152-page decision, which invalidated seven patents related to the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, whose mutations have been associated with cancer.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York joined with individual patients and medical organizations to challenge the patents last May: they argued that genes, products of nature, fall outside of the realm of things that can be patented. The patents, they argued, stifle research and innovation and limit testing options.

Myriad Genetics, the company that holds the patents with the University of Utah Research Foundation, asked the court to dismiss the case, claiming that the work of isolating the DNA from the body transforms it and makes it patentable. Such patents, it said, have been granted for decades; the Supreme Court upheld patents on living organisms in 1980. In fact, many in the patent field had predicted the courts would throw out the suit.

Judge Sweet, however, ruled that the patents were “improperly granted” because they involved a “law of nature.” He said that many critics of gene patents considered the idea that isolating a gene made it patentable “a ‘lawyer’s trick’ that circumvents the prohibition on the direct patenting of the DNA in our bodies but which, in practice, reaches the same result.”

The case could have far-reaching implications. About 20 percent of human genes have been patented, and multibillion-dollar industries have been built atop the intellectual property rights that the patents grant.

“If a decision like this were upheld, it would have a pretty significant impact on the future of medicine,” said Kenneth Chahine, a visiting law professor at the University of Utah who filed an amicus brief on the side of Myriad. He said that medicine was becoming more personalized, with genetic tests used not only to diagnose diseases but to determine which medicine was best for which patient.

Mr. Chahine, who once ran a biotechnology company, said the decision could also make it harder for young companies to raise money from investors. “The industry is going to have to get more creative about how to retain exclusivity and attract capital in the face of potentially weaker patent protection,” he said.

Edward Reines, a patent lawyer who represents biotechnology firms but was not involved in the case, said loss of patent protection could diminish the incentives for genetic research.

“The genetic tools to solve the major health problems of our time have not been found yet,” said Mr. Reines, who is with the Silicon Valley office of the firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges. “These are the discoveries we want to motivate by providing incentives to all the researchers out there.”

The lawsuit also challenged the patents on First Amendment grounds, but Judge Sweet ruled that because the issues in the case could be decided within patent law, the constitutional question need not be decided.

Here’s one I should have posted long ago. It was apparently made in 2006 but managed to slip under my radar until about a year ago. This is probably the best one out there on the whole Transhumanism / AGI type dimension, but I don’t think its too popular amongst their movement with it being the only one I can think of that is balanced and shows both sides of the coin. I did add it the other day to the new “Films to Watch” section in the left panel, but decided to underscore this great film here.

Be sure to check out the parts where the Life Extension advocate screams that you’ll have to kill him in order to stop him from becoming a god.

Film comes in 3 one hour parts:

TechnoCalyps – Part I – TransHuman

TechnoCalyps – Part II – Preparing for the Singularity

TechnoCalyps – Part III – The Digital Messiah