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Dear Mr. President: It’s Time for Your Bioethics Commission

05/23/2017

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

Last week, seven Democratic members of the U.S. House Representatives sent a letter to the White House asking President Trump to appoint a director to the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), position that normally serves as the presidential science advisor. The impetus for writing the letter was a communication from the Deputy National Science Advisor that two hoax reports, that tried to undermine climate change, were circulating through the West Wing as “science.” The Congresspersons state “Where scientific policy is concerned, the White House should make use of the latest, most broadly-supported science…Relying on factual technical and scientific data has helped make America the greatest nation in the world.” Among the signers are a PhD in math and a PhD in physics.…

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05/26/2017
Rice plant engineered with a ‘tunable’ immune system could fight multiple diseases at once Science

05/25/2017
Fixing the tomato: CRISPR edits correct plant-breeding snafu Nature

From their giant fruits to compact plant size, today’s tomatoes have been sculpted by thousands of years of breeding. But mutations linked to prized traits — including one that made them easier to harvest — yield an undesirable plant when combined, geneticists have foundIt is a rare example of a gene harnessed during domestication that later hampered crop improvement efforts, says geneticist Zachary Lippman of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. After identifying the mutations, he and his colleagues used CRISPR gene editing to engineer more productive plants — a strategy that plant breeders are eager to adopt.

05/24/2017
Safety and immunogenicity of a live attenuated influenza H5 candidate vaccine strain A/17/turkey/Turkey/05/133 H5N2 and its priming effects for potential pre-pandemic use: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial The Lancet

The emergence of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 viruses has raised concerns about their pandemic potential. Vaccination is the most effective way of preventing influenza. In this study, we investigated the safety and immunogenicity of an avian H5N2 live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV H5N2) in healthy Thai adults and its priming immune responses with an H5N1 inactivated vaccine boost.

05/23/2017
U.S. flower sellers rush to destroy illegal GE petunias Science

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that U.S. flower distributors have begun to destroy countless petunia plants after federal scientists confirmed that they were genetically engineered (GE) to produce vivid orange, red, and purple blooms. The agency says the flowers pose no risk to the environment or to human health, but GE organisms need special permits to be sold in the United States.