Posts tagged scientists
Hundreds of thousands of mutated mosquitoes could soon be unleashed in Florida, but don’t worry: scientists say they have a plan.
It might sound like something out of a low-budget horror film, but the US Food and Drug Administration really is considering whether or not they should allow scientists to send thousands upon thousands of genetically altered insects into the wild.
If all goes as planned, mosquitos modified by some serious Frankenstein treatment will be introduced into the Florida Keys and ideally mate with skeeters that carry the deadly dengue fever, passing along in the process a fatal birth defect that will hopefully eradicate the offspring before birth. From there, scientists say they expect the population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes infected with the dangerous disease will be decimated in only a few generations without causing any major implications for the native ecosystem.
“The science of it, I think, looks fine. It’s straight from setting up experiments and collecting data,” Michael Doyle of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District tells the Associated Press.
No vaccination against dengue fever is currently available in any part of the world, and although the mortality rate associated with it is low, it’s still a serious concern. In the Florida Keys where the economy relies on tourism, an epidemic of any sort could be catastrophic. Some fear that sending mutated mosquitos into the environment could have grave implications as well, though, and are asking for more thorough testing before the FDA makes a decision. Of course, it doesn’t help the scientists’ case that it will take several rounds of releasing genetically modified mosquitos in order for their plan to work.
“The public resistance and the need to reach some agreement between mosquito control and the public, I see that as a very significant issue, outside of the (operating) costs, since this is not just a one-time thing,” Phil Lounibos of the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory tells the AP.
The plan to put lab-altered insects into the ecosystem is expected to not harm any humans since the female mosquitos that bite won’t become infected. Real estate agent Mila de Mier tells the AP that she’s still concerned, though, and clearly isn’t the only one: her petition on Change.org, “Say No to Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Release in the Florida Keys,” has garnered over 117,000 signatures.
The lead researcher behind the monumental study that linked Monsanto’s GMOs and best-selling herbicide Roundup to tumor development and early death is now blowing the whistle on many corporate scientists who are not just close to Monsanto and profit-harvesting GMO crops — many of them actually have or are seeking their own GMO patents. These patents, of course, enable them to make bountiful amounts of cash. Other corporate scientists are on (or ‘were’ at one point) Monsanto’s pay roll, including former Monsanto executive turned Deputy Commissioner for Foods at the FDA Michael R. Taylor.
Dr. Gilles-Eric Séralini, a French scientists who has been under assault from Monsanto and pro-GMO scientists, was responsible for perhaps the largest awakening over the dangers of Monsanto’s GMO foods that we have ever seen. Not only did the public begin to further recognize the existence and threat of GMOs thanks to his research, but numerous countries like Russia and others actually enacted a suspension on the import of genetically modified maize due to public health concerns.
This, of course, upset the Monsanto-funded corporate scientists who proverbially ‘unleashed the dogs’ on Dr. Séralini. Even Monsanto released a comment, stating that the lifelong rat study wasn’t sufficient to substantiate any real health concerns. The company itself, amazingly, only conducted a 90 day trial period for its GMOs before unleashing them on the public.
Previous Peer-Reviewed Evidence Highlighting GMO Danger Ignored by ‘Scientists’
It’s important to remember that Séralini’s work may be the most popular within the media, but it’s not the only research linking GMOs and Roundup to serious health effects. Monsanto and fellow goons failed to mention this truth, especially the fact that Monsanto’s Roundup has been associated with over 29 negative health conditions according to peer-reviewed studies available on PubMed. And these conditions are nothing minor. Health effects linked to Roundup include:
- DNA damage
- Low testosterone
- Liver damage
- Endocrine disease
These are serious disorders that result from the very Roundup that is used on crops by farmers worldwide before hitting your dinner table. In fact an increased amount of usage is now needed thanks to ineffective GMO crops that are now being eaten by mutated superbugs that have developed a resistance to Monsanto’s built-in GMO pesticides. Roundup covered crops that eventually land on dinner tables worldwide.
Scientists have genetic library of 8 native species they want to preserve
The Associated Press Posted: Nov 15, 2012 3:29 PM ET Last Updated: Nov 15, 2012 5:33 PM ET
Brazilian researchers are turning to cloning to help fight the perilous decline of several animal species.
The scientists at Brazil’s Embrapa agriculture research agency said this week they have spent two years building a gene library with hundreds of samples from eight native species, including the collared anteater, the bush dog, the black lion tamarin, the coati, and deer and bison varieties, as well as the leopard and the maned wolf.
While still in its early stages, with the birth of a clone likely years away, the project represents Brazilian scientists’ first foray into the cloning of wild animals, said team leader Carlos Frederico Martins.
Scientists in other parts of the world have been cloning threatened species for more than a decade, though with a low rate of success, and sometimes with the criticism of conservationists who say more should instead be done to save endangered animals in the wild by protecting their natural habitats.
After a French study suggested that rats fed on Monsanto GMO corn suffered tumors, Russian researches plan their own, this time public, experiment. The unique reality show with rats is expected to prove or deny GMO’s health-threatening influence.
The Russian scientists, who oppose genetically modified organisms (GMO) in food, expect that their year-long experiment will show whether the controversial cultivation process has effects as dangerous as French revelations claimed on September 19.
Scientists from France’s University of Caen made public the results of their classified study, publishing the images of rats with tumors after they were fed a diet of genetically modified (GM) maize produced by American chemical giant Monsanto.
The revelation stirred fear across Europe and in Russia, where authorities temporarily suspended the import and sale of Monsanto’s genetically modified corn.
By Laurent Banguet | AFP
Scientists to hold back time for one second
Horologists around the world on Saturday will carry out one of the weirdest operations of their profession: they will hold back time.
The last minute of June 30, 2012 is destined to be 61 seconds long, for timekeepers are to add a “leap second” to compensate for the wibbly-wobbly movements of our world.
The ever-so-brief halting of the second hand will compensate for a creeping divergence from solar time, meaning the period required for Earth to complete a day.
By Mike Barrett
Mercury found in dental amalgam fillings has been an issue within the dental community and beyond for many years. These fillings, used since the American Civil War, contain an estimated 50 percent mercury. Whenever friction meets these fillings, toxic mercury gases are emitted. This means that with each chew and dental drill comes an emission of mercury gases, leading to numerous health problems. While nearly half of dentists have stopped using amalgam fillings due to health dangers, the Food and Drug Administration has yet to act on these issues.
FDA Ignoring Own Scientists Warnings on Amalgam Fillings
In December 2010, the Food and Drug Administration convened its second scientific advisory panel on dental amalgams. Scientists yet again told the FDA that amalgam use in children, pregnant women, and hypersensitive adults must come to a halt. The toxic vapors emitted are harmful to everyone, but these groups of individuals especially suffer.
According to Campaign for Mercury Free Dentistry:
Dr. Kotagal said there is “no place for mercury in children,” Dr. Ismail said “children less than 6 years of age, I would restrict it significantly,” Dr. Thompson said “definitely not in pregnant women and definitely not in those below 6 years of age,” Dr. Fleming said we need contraindications for pregnant women, and Dr. Burbacher said, “why put amalgams in children if we know they’re going to live with that for the rest of their lives? And we don’t know what that’s going to do.”
In 2009, no one on the FDA’s panel agreed to the FDA’s ruling – unrestricted amalgam use in children and in pregnant women. Then, in 2011, FDA Center Director Jeff Shuren – the person in charge of amalgam issues – was put in the hot seat after being confronted by dentists, consumers, and scientists. In response to the concerns voiced by the dentists, consumers, and scientists, Shuren said that the FDA would make ‘an announcement by the end of the year’.
Needless to say, no such announcement has been made. Until the FDA listens to its scientists, children will continue to develop neurological system complications, and the toxic vapors will continue to toxify the environment.
New research suggests it may be possible to learn high-performance tasks with little or no conscious effort
New research published today in the journal Science suggests it may be possible to use brain technology to learn to play a piano, reduce mental stress or hit a curve ball with little or no conscious effort. It’s the kind of thing seen in Hollywood’s “Matrix” franchise.
Experiments conducted at Boston University (BU) and ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan, recently demonstrated that through a person’s visual cortex, researchers could use decoded functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to induce brain activity patterns to match a previously known target state and thereby improve performance on visual tasks.
Think of a person watching a computer screen and having his or her brain patterns modified to match those of a high-performing athlete or modified to recuperate from an accident or disease. Though preliminary, researchers say such possibilities may exist in the future.
Neuroscientists have found that pictures gradually build up inside a person’s brain, appearing first as lines, edges, shapes, colors and motion in early visual areas. The brain then fills in greater detail to make a red ball appear as a red ball, for example.
Researchers studied the early visual areas for their ability to cause improvements in visual performance and learning.
“Some previous research confirmed a correlation between improving visual performance and changes in early visual areas, while other researchers found correlations in higher visual and decision areas,” said Watanabe, director of BU’s Visual Science Laboratory. “However, none of these studies directly addressed the question of whether early visual areas are sufficiently plastic to cause visual perceptual learning.” Until now.
Boston University post-doctoral fellow Kazuhisa Shibata designed and implemented a method using decoded fMRI neurofeedback to induce a particular activation pattern in targeted early visual areas that corresponded to a pattern evoked by a specific visual feature in a brain region of interest. The researchers then tested whether repetitions of the activation pattern caused visual performance improvement on that visual feature.
The result, say researchers, is a novel learning approach sufficient to cause long-lasting improvement in tasks that require visual performance.
What’s more, the approach worked even when test subjects were not aware of what they were learning.
“The most surprising thing in this study is that mere inductions of neural activation patterns corresponding to a specific visual feature led to visual performance improvement on the visual feature, without presenting the feature or subjects’ awareness of what was to be learned,” said Watanabe, who developed the idea for the research project along with Mitsuo Kawato, director of ATR lab and Yuka Sasaki, an assistant in neuroscience at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“We found that subjects were not aware of what was to be learned while behavioral data obtained before and after the neurofeedback training showed that subjects’ visual performance improved specifically for the target orientation, which was used in the neurofeedback training,” he said.
The finding brings up an inevitable question. Is hypnosis or a type of automated learning a potential outcome of the research?
“In theory, hypnosis or a type of automated learning is a potential outcome,” said Kawato. “However, in this study we confirmed the validity of our method only in visual perceptual learning. So we have to test if the method works in other types of learning in the future. At the same time, we have to be careful so that this method is not used in an unethical way.”
At present, the decoded neurofeedback method might be used for various types of learning, including memory, motor and rehabilitation.
Press Release from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in Japan supported the research.