Category: Biotech

Weekly Science & Politics News Roundup

By Melissa Lafsky | August 1, 2008 1:56 pm

• Anthrax drama! As the Feds close in on a suspect for the 2001 attacks, the top Army microbiologist foils their plan by committing suicide.

• Is contraception the same thing as abortion? Apparently, the answer depends on whether you’re looking at it from a scientific or political perspective.

• After a frantic search, officials finally locate the source of the notorious salmonella-laden peppers—though not before over 250 people were sickened and two died. But did the FDA’s poor communication with states during the process reveal an even deeper management problem?

• The New York Times Magazine delves into the psychology and habits of Internet harassers.

• And, just in time, China relaxes some of its limitations on Internet access for journalists covering the Beijing Olympic games.

• And, in a bout of litigiousness put to good use, Connecticut, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania and New York City plan to sue the EPA to force the agency to start reducing pollution from ships, aircraft, and off-road vehicles.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Biotech, Nutrition & Obesity

Reality Check: Biotech

By Melissa Lafsky | June 2, 2008 11:40 am

biotechStem Cells
The last three decades have been quite a ride in the world of stem cells. Since they were first isolated in mice in 1981, they’ve rocked the global scientific community with their potential healing abilities—and also sparked massive political and religious debate.

Scientists have been getting results with microRNAs, which have been used to successfully differentiate stem cells, and have even managed to re-start dead animal hearts using cell transplantation. Meanwhile, for women, the stem cells in your menstrual blood may come in handy for your health down the road—though exactly how handy remains to be seen.

And while the longterm political and religious furor over stem cells continues to rage on, the ongoing development of embryonic stem cell-like cells raise scientists’ hopes for miracle cures that would make even the Pope happy.

Bioengineered Meat
Meat is in trouble. Between inhumane farming practices, an increase in livestock-borne diseases, and the problems inherent in generating enough beef, pork, and chicken to feed an ever-growing population, a carnivorous future isn’t looking rosy. So leave it to scientists to begin developing lab-grown meat, created from cells of living animals. The “lab meat movement” has made “glacial progress” in the past few years, to the point where PETA has offered a $1 million prize to the first scientist/s who can “produce commercially viable quantities” of it by 2012. After that, all that’s left is finding a way to rid consumers of the “ick factor.”

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Biotech, Reality Checks, Stem Cells
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