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.
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.
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.
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 Courtupheld 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.
This is by no means an exhaustive tell all about the realm of life extension, but instead to show potentially economical therapies that in many cases wouldn’t even count as “transhumanism”. The new ‘field’ of life extension involves a wide array of science and technologies. Instead its to summarize some semi-recent news items that suggest that life extension could end up being affordable to average people, especially thru the law of accelerating returns and economics of scale.
The idea for many is that we’ll not just slow the aging process, but instead we’ll be able to reverse it and live indefinite lifespans. From studying people with aging disorders scientists believe they’ve identified genes that regulate aging. So between what that knowledge can yield and the rest of it they have a pretty compelling case that lifespans beyond 120 years can be achieved. This creates a population problem, if at least certain forms of it can become affordable to the masses.
So this post will just list some headlines of recent that suggest such an affordable outcome might be feasible, in short time even. The field is way beyond some of this stuff. Take a deeper look thru Technut News and elsewhere for a more comprehensive listing of news examples.
“America risks being left behind in the global economy: Revolutionary advances in information technology, biotechnology, nanotechnology and other fields are reshaping the global economy. Without renewed efforts, the United States risks losing leadership in science, technology and innovation. ” LINK MIRROR
With all of his talk about “change”, is it only me who senses the irony here? The “Revolutionary” advances he’s talking about are Artificial General Intelligence (“information technology”), genetic engineering / synthetic biology & designer babies (“biotechnology”), and too much in terms of nanotechnology to sound-byte like the others. The “other fields” he mentioned is almost certainly the other field he didn’t mention, cognitive sciences.
What he’s likely referring to is “convergence”, and unlike Bush (who once made a similar statement) I get the feeling he understands these things with a far greater degree of clarity. This ‘convergence’ is the unifying merger of these sciences into a vast paradigm shifting new form of science / technology. It’s the fusion of these sciences into one. It’s really hard to even describe. It’s hard enough trying to describe the key component nanotechnology. I think its impossible to even conceptualize the world of nano without watching the following short video presentation:
The integration and synergy of the four technologies (nano-bio-info-cogno) originate from the nanoscale, where the building blocks of matter are established. This picture symbolizes the confluence of technologies that now offers the promise of improving human lives in many ways, and the realignment of traditional disciplinary boundaries that will be needed to realize this potential. New and more direct pathways towards human goals are envisioned in working habits, in economic activity, and in the humanities.
In the early decades of the twenty-first century, concentrated efforts can unify science based on unity in nature, thereby advancing the combination of nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and new humane technologies based in cognitive science. With proper attention to ethical issues and societal needs, converging technologies could determine a tremendous improvement in human abilities, societal outcomes, the nations productivity, and the quality of life. This is a broad, cross-cutting, emerging and timely opportunity of interest to individuals, society and humanity in the long term.
The phrase convergent technologies refers to the synergistic combination of four major NBIC (Nano-Bio-Info-Cogno) provinces of science and technology, each of which is currently progressing at a rapid rate: (a) nanoscience and nanotechnology; (b) biotechnology and biomedicine, including genetic engineering; (c) information technology, including advanced computing and communications; (d) cognitive science, including cognitive neuroscience.
In short, the idea is to create an entire new realm of science, and therefore ‘life’, by unifying these key technology paradigms into one new format. It’s not merely to propose creating new lifeforms via genetic engineering, but rather create cyborgs at the cellular scale. Meaning each cell is in itself a biological nanobot cyborg that is alone artificially intelligent, yet are also meant to function collectively in many cases. Then these are to serve a wide array of uses from neural brain implants to ubiquitous intelligent panels and components on NASA spaceships.
The document mentioned is in effect perhaps the ultimate Transhumanism manifesto in existence, and the list of federal agencies and their collaborators in just that 2002 NBIC document is exhaustive:
White House, National Science Foundation, Department of Commerce, Newt Gingrich, NASA, National Institutes of Health, Hewlet Packard, Institute for Global Futures, National Science and Technology Councils Subcommittee on Nanoscale Science Engineering and Technology (NSET), IBM, Raytheon, Lucent, University of California, Stanford University, Sandia National Labs, Brandeis University, MIT, University of Washington, University of Strathclyde, Tissue Informatics, University of Pennsylvania, University of Louisville, NYU Medical School, University of Calgary, Duke University, University of Texas, UCSB, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Carnegie Melon University, Department of Defense, DARPA, Naval Research Laboratory, Defense For Research, New England Complex Systems Institute, University of Virginia, University of Maryland, Institute of Nanotechnology, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Commision on the Future of Aerospace, US Nuclear Regulatory Commision, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, The EPA, Department of Chemistry, Princeton Materials Institute …
One notable name from that list is Newt Gingrich. Newt did a key keynote presentation, and in it he refers to our current era in time as the “Age of Transitions”:
Figure A.2. The Age of Transitions.
We are starting to live through two patterns of change. The first is the enormous computer and communications revolution described above. The second, only now beginning to rise, is the combination of the nanotechnology-biology-information revolution. These two S curves will overlap. It is the overlapping period that we are just beginning to enter, and it is that period that I believe will be an Age of Transitions.
Focusing on computers and communications is only the first step toward understanding the Age of Transitions. While we are still in the early stages of the computer-communications pattern of change, we are already beginning to see a new, even more powerful pattern of change that will be built on a synergistic interaction between three different areas: the nano world, biology, and information.
The sciences have reached a watershed at which they must combine in order to advance most rapidly. The new renaissance must be based on a holistic view of science and technology that envisions new technical possibilities and focuses on people. The unification of science and technology can yield results over the next two decades on the basis of four key principles: material unity at the nanoscale, NBIC transforming tools, hierarchical systems, and improvement of human performance.
If anyone out there underestimates Newt Gingrich I highly recommend you read his lengthy contribution to that document. He goes on:
We are living through two tremendous patterns of scientific-technological change: an overlapping of a computer-communications revolution and a nanotechnology-biology-information revolution. Each alone would be powerful; combined, the two patterns guarantee that we will be in constant transition as one breakthrough or innovation follows another.
One last Newt quote:
Computing is a key element in this revolution.
And that brings us back to Obama, and his new friends at Google. Recent news has Obama popping up in my Google News Gadgets I normally use to monitor whenever Google or DARPA pop up in news articles with the term “artificial intelligence”. In particular interest is Obama’s alliance with Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google. It turns out that Eric not only endorsed Obama before his presidential victory, but he even went as far as to hit the campaign trail with him during the last month. See video here of Eric discussing his endorsement, and here where he was featured in Obama’s 30 minute infomercial. In the time since the election ended, he’s now one of Obama’s special economic advisers. Another Google name, in Obama’s transition team is Sonal Shah.
This is the trailer for my upcoming film, “an unholy alliance”, which chronicles the Google-NASA-DARPA alliance.
The Google-Obama alliance brings context to my assertions of Obama’s initial ‘revolutionary’ technologies statement when you consider the NASA-Google alliance which Google & NASA press releases described the partnership as being focused on “massively distributed computing” and “bio-info-nano convergence“.
Al Gore also comes to mind here considering he’s been on Google’s board of senior advisers since shortly after he “lost” the 2000 election when he also began his “Global Warming” ‘crusade’. Considering the above reasons alone I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if we soon hear of Gore becoming Obama’s new “Chief Technology Officer”.
While Obama has been somewhat sketchy about how he intends to deal with NASA funding matters, I think with my above elaborations his following quote on the subject gains new light:
“What direction do we take the space program in? Once we have a sense of what’s going to be most valuable for us in terms of gaining knowledge, then I think we’ll able to adjust the budget so that we’re going all out on what it is that we’ve decided to do.”