domingo, mayo 29, 2016

Silvia Ribeiro: Seres humanos sintéticos

La Jornada: ¿Seres humanos sintéticos? 

l 10 de mayo de 2016, Día de la Madre, una reunión secreta de 150 científicos, abogados y empresarios en la Universidad de Harvard comenzó a considerar la creación de un genoma humano totalmente sintético, un ser humano sin madre ni padre.
La construcción se haría a partir de los químicos esenciales que componen el ADN (citosina, guanina, timina, adenina o C,G,T,A) y computadoras que sintetizan secuencias genéticas usando como programa la información de mapas genómicos, muchos de los cuales están en Internet. El proceso no es tan simple como podría parecer, pero los medios técnicos avanzan rápidamente. Los que llamaron a la reunión –que no iba a ser conocida por público ni prensa– afirmaban en su convocatoria que es necesario crear un ambiente de competencia, un gran desafío, para captar fondos de inversionistas privados y públicos y acelerar el desarrollo de las tecnologías que harían posible esta construcción.

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Fotos de la marcha contra Monsanto en Ponce, Puerto Rico, 21 de mayo 2016

Fotos por Luis López

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sábado, mayo 28, 2016

Puerto Rico demo against Monsanto

Hundreds Demonstrate Against Monsanto 

PONCE, Puerto Rico – About a thousand people from some 50 organizations marched Saturday from the Ponce campus of the University of Puerto Rico to the Plaza Las Delicias, protesting the presence of agrochemical and biotech company Monsanto in Puerto Rico.
Among the protesters was a group of doctors headed by the president of the Physicians-Surgeons Association, Víctor Ramos, who claimed he received countless emails persuading him not to attend the march.
“Up until yesterday, I was getting emails to not come to the march,” said Ramos, who added that substances such as glyphosate, a herbicide, are harmful despite Environmental Protection Agency reports to the contrary of what the World Health Organization has pointed out.

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¿Quién es GMO?

Organic Farmers Are Not Anti-Science but Genetic Engineers Often Are

By Elizabeth Henderson

So since I do not oppose science, do I oppose genetic engineering? Yes and no. I share with geneticists their fascination with the functioning of the tiniest of particles that make up living matter. One of my favorite books is A Feeling for the Organism (by Evelyn Fox Keller, 1984), a biography of Barbara McClintock (1902-1992), a cytogeneticist who specialized in corn. McClintock was one of the first to map the corn genome. She demonstrated that genes turn physical characteristics on and off and discovered genetic transposition or “jumping genes.” She shook the notion that science held as a truth that the genome is a stationary entity with the genes in an order that is unchanging by showing that it is subject to alteration and rearrangement. For many years, the mainstream of science regarded her with disapproval only eventually to catch up with her and then heap honors on her great discoveries. Science lurches forward – and a great leap is yet to be made for a full comprehension of the relationship between genes and the environment.
The more geneticists look into it, the more complex the relationship of genes to physical traits turns out to be. As Jonathan Latham puts it:
“a defined, discrete or simple pathway from gene to trait probably never exists. Most gene function is mediated murkily through highly complex biochemical and other networks that depend on many conditional factors, such as the presence of other genes and their variants, on the environment, on the age of the organism, on chance, and so forth. Geneticists and molecular biologists, however, since the time of Gregor Mendel, have striven to find or create artificial experimental systems in which environmental or any other sources of variation are minimised so as not to distract from the more “important” business of genetic discovery.
“But by discarding organisms or traits that do not follow their expectations, geneticists and molecular biologists have built themselves a circular argument in favour of a naive deterministic account of gene function. Their paradigm habitually downplays the enormous complexities by which information passes (in both directions) between organisms and their genomes. It has created an immense and mostly unexamined bias in the default public understanding of genes and DNA.” (Latham, op cit)

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viernes, mayo 27, 2016

No, "science" has not confirmed that GMOs are safe to eat

First, and most importantly, the NAS doesn't hold an "umbrella" view on the safety of GMOs. Along with many other international bodies, it recognises that such a view is untenable, given that the GM process can give rise to different and unpredictable effects in each case. The committee points out that it has received "impassioned requests" to give the public a simple, general, authoritative answer about GM crops, but that given the complexity of GMO issues, it did not see that as appropriate. Following that, in a 400-page document, the committee develops its view on the issue. That view is undoubtedly more favourable to the use of GMOs in agriculture than that of most environmental groups – but it is also much more conservative than that of many GMO promoters (including El País). Far from stating that "science has confirmed that GMOs are safe", the report could be more accurately summarised as stating, "There’s a lot that we don’t know, which isn’t surprising, because no one is looking."

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jueves, mayo 26, 2016

Puerto Rico pedalea por la agroecología y contra los transgénicos, mayo 2016

Foto Félix O. Colón

Foto Felix O. Colón

Foto Félix O. Colón

Foto Pedaleando por la Agroecología

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miércoles, mayo 25, 2016

Unholy alliance has plans for African agriculture

The Unholy Alliance Report Cover

The Unholy Alliance, Five Western Donors Shape a Pro-Corporate Agenda for African Agriculture, exposes how a coalition of four donor countries and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is shaping a pro-business environment in the agricultural sector of developing countries, especially in Africa.

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martes, mayo 24, 2016

Dear "Skeptics," Bash Homeopathy and Bigfoot Less, Mammograms and War More

A science journalist takes a skeptical look at capital-S Skepticism  

By John Horgan on May 16, 2016

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400 Global Cities Vs. Monsanto

domingo, mayo 22, 2016

Charles Benbrook: NAS Report on GMOs Gives Spin New Life and Pulls Too Many Punches

As I worked through Tuesday’s report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) titled “Genetically Engineered Crops: Experience and Prospects,” I was at times pleasantly surprised by what I read and what the Committee recommends. But I was more often disappointed that the Committee passed up opportunities to drive home how serious many GE-crop triggered problems have become.
To its credit, the report does a good job describing the problems and challenges that have arisen over the last 20 years in the wake of widespread adoption of GE crops. These include the emergence and spread of resistant weeds and insects, inadequate pre-approval safety testing, the U.S. government’s disjointed regulatory framework, loss of trust and confidence in the quality of U.S. food and rigor of U.S. regulation, rising costs on the farm for GE seed and associated pesticides, and the public health and environmental consequences of the intensification of herbicide use.

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