Sow with piglet

Salk Institute: Pig-Human Chimeras Could Help Grow Human Organs

Scientists at California’s Salk Institute are introducing human DNA into pig DNA with the objective of growing organs for human transplant. The chimera creations present a serious ethical dilemma if the pigs were to acquire human intelligence. For this reason, the US government does not fund chimera research at this time (nor does it prohibit it). However, the National Institute of Health is considering reversing its decision and may begin giving tax-funded research grants.




Trump Will Struggle To Dismantle Huge Climate Policy Machine

President Trump is clamping down on federal agencies dealing with climate change. This involves thousands of employees, grant recipients, and contractors. He has temporarily frozen EPA grants and contracts and shut down the agency’s public communications. The EPA and other agencies are removing climate-change information from their websites. -GEG

In the early days of what appears to be a clampdown on federal agencies who do climate work, it’s been a bumpy ride for the Trump transition team.

If the Trump administration intends to strangle the flow of climate change information produced by the federal bureaucracy, it will be no small task.

The government apparatus of climate policy involves dozens of agencies and offices, as this chart shows, and they spend billions of dollars a year. Their public activities number in the hundreds, from rules and scientific reports to research programs, webinars and internships. Thousands of employees, grant recipients and contractors are engaged in federal climate science, policy and communications.

To bring all this under control, to satisfy Trump‘s apparent desire to stymie programs that run counter to his policies, could also require reining in forces outside the bureaucracy. That could include trade associations, universities, citizens’ groups and state and local governments who work closely with federal counterparts as advisers, partners in regulation, or even as lobbyists for special interests.

Throughout this realm, nerves are on edge in the early days of the administration. The incoming Trump team shows signs of launching a broad campaign of information control, which some say may violate federal standards on scientific integrity or other rules.

Like an exterminator spraying a broad-spectrum pesticide, the administration seems intent on eradicating activities that offend the fossil fuel industry and its allies. Its loyalists are seeded throughout the Trump transition teams and are among the new president’s cabinet nominees, although most remain unconfirmed. Some of the position papers and directives they are wielding speak of abolishing whole programs or radically reorienting their purposes to suit Trump’s pro-fossil-fuel, anti-regulatory agenda.

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Mixed fruit

GMO Apples Will Hit Supermarket Shelves In February 2017

Okanagan, a Canadian company, will begin selling ‘Arctic’ GMO apples that are genetically engineered to resist browning. The company has Arctic versions of  Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, and Fuji apples, and expects to add more. The only way customers can detect the GMO apples is to scan the product code (not many customers carry around a scanner) or to rely on stores to state they are GMO apples – which most stores have no intention of doing. – GEG

Browning is caused when the flesh of the apple is exposed to air and is oxidized by it. That requires changing the chemical composition of the food. Will that affect how the apple is digested and absorbed in the intestinal tract? Does it alter the nutritional content? Most likely it does, but the company has no motivation to conduct rigorous testing to find out.

A brave new world in apples arrives in Midwestern grocery stores in February. The Canadian company Okanagan will begin selling “Arctic” apples that have been genetically modified to resist browning, reports the CBC.

To show off the apples’ talent, the Arctics will be sold pre-sliced in clear pouches, though they will not be marked as GMO products. The only way customers will know that is if they scan the product code or if the yet-unnamed stores choose to publicize the GMO angle.

“I don’t think we’re hiding behind the fact that we use that technique,” says Okanagan chief Neal Carter. “We don’t want to demonize the product by putting a big GMO sticker on it.” Plus, he adds, the brand has gotten a lot of press already.

This first test run will be small: A total of 500 40-pound boxes will be split among 10 stores, reports Capital Press. So far, the USDA has approved three varieties: Arctic’s versions of the Golden Delicious, the Granny Smith, and the Fuji, but the company expects to keep adding more.

Read full article here…