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Golden Rice and Why You Should Not Fund Greenpeace

Without a doubt, Greenpeace has previously been a force for good. Helping to convince governments and the population as a whole the importance of protecting the rainforests and biodiversity, to stress the need for renewable energy, and to condemn the gruesome act of whale hunting – to name just a few things they’ve done. However, is that what they are going to be remembered for?

Video based on ‘Gold vs. Green’

By: Myles Power.
Support at: http://patreon.com/powerm1985

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Splendid fairywrens (Malurus splendens) are tiny blots of color and song that live across most of Australia. Ornithologists have studied different fairywren species and subspecies for decades, and why wouldn’t they? I could watch these beautiful birds for days!

One of the most interesting aspects of Splendid fairywren behavior is how it goes about breeding. Splendid fairywrens are socially monogamous, so a male and a female will raise a nest of young together as a mated pair. However, now that we have genetic testing, ornithologists have found that these pairs are actually only monogamous in how they raise the chicks. Both the male and female of a pair will mate with other birds, trying to increase their chances of good, strong offspring by mating with lots of different partners. This way, both “parents” get the benefits of raising young as a cooperative pair, and can still take advantage of the entire local gene pool!

As it turns out, this breeding behavior isn’t limited to the Splendid fairywren. Genetic testing of local populations has shown that plenty of birds that were once thought to be completely monogamous also follow this pattern of social monogamy and sexual promiscuity. We’re having to go back over the purpose of many different breeding behaviors with this new viewpoint, and consider what having eggs from different fathers in one nest, and eggs related to one father in multiple nests, means for the behavior of both male and female bird partners.

“I eat 800 calories a day and workout 2 hrs a day 6 days a week and I’m still fat.”

CONCLUSIONS:

The failure of some obese subjects to lose weight while eating a diet they report as low in calories is due to an energy intake substantially higher than reported and an overestimation of physical activity, not to an abnormality in thermogenesis.

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The new revelation of DNA-editing, CRISPR technology is still making the headline rounds.

“Some experts predict that the scientists who figured out how to use CRISPR/Cas9 to edit genes will win a Nobel Prize for their discovery.”

This is something that has the potential to redefine humanity. We now harness the ability to alter our own DNA. This includes the ability to battle hereditary disease, but also to splice animal DNA into our own. The most controversial consequence of this technology is that any changes we make will be passed on through each following generation of humanity.

This technology could be a savior from disease, but also it has the potential to literally create new races of humans, or even completely new species.

Source: http://www.latimes.com/science/la-sci-gene-editing-embryo-20150503-story.html#page=1

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-genetically-modify-human-embryos-2015-4

On April 24, 2003, shortly after the completion of the human genome project, its director Francis Collins and his team posed 15 grand challenges to the scientific community. They dared researchers to harness the genome to crack puzzles of biology, health, and society. In particular, they called for genome-based tools to close health disparities. Since then, the United States has pumped more than $1 billion a year into genomics research. What do we have to show for it?

“What we found in the literature published from 2007 to 2013 was basically nothing,” said Jay Kaufman, the lead author of the first study to examine available genetic data for evidence that explains a major racial-health disparity. For many years, researchers speculated that what they couldn’t explain about disparities must be the fingerprint of some mysterious genetic component. But since they are now able to scan the entire genome, this speculation appears both lazy and wrong. When it comes to why many black people die earlier than white people in the U.S., Kaufman and his colleagues show we’ve been looking for answers in the wrong places: We shouldn’t be looking in the twists of the double helix, but the grinding inequality of the environment.

It is no secret that a longer life is a white privilege in the U.S. In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that white men lived more than four years longer than black men, and white women lived more than three years longer than black women. The main reason for the racial mortality gap is heart disease. “There’s a huge number of years of life lost because some people have the black life expectancy and not the white life expectancy,” Kaufman said. “It’s killing people prematurely on the basis of race.”

Why hasn’t attention turned, then, to social inequality, not genetics, as the source of health disparities? The main reason is the political ramification. “If you show that this is a predisposition that is genetically determined—black people just have this gene, there’s nothing we can do about it, this is just nature—then society is completely absolved. We don’t have any responsibility to solve this problem,” Kaufman said. “If you show that it is because of racism and injustice and people’s living conditions, well, then, there is some responsibility and we have to do something about this.”

In his book Making the Mexican Diabetic: Race, Science, and Inequality, Michael Montoya shows how epidemiologists try to explain diabetes through genetics, even if evidence points in a social direction: lifestyle disruptions, dispossession, and poverty, which disproportionately affect minorities. “It is much easier to say it must be something [wrong] with those people than it is [to say something’s wrong] with the way we have arranged our society,” Montoya told me.

3D printed genetically identical rhino horns are being created to help combat poaching

By Sarah Buhr | @sarahbuhr -

There’s a startup called Pembient that is 3D printing rhinoceros horns in a lab on the far edge of San Francisco. These are not horns that look like rhino horns. These are genetically identical rhino horns, according to the startup. Pembient just didn’t need a rhino in order to make them.

READ MORE ON TECH CRUNCH

ikitteh2k15 asked:

If PoC were common in medieval Europe would not they have left a genetic foot print ? Yet there is very little significant subsaharan African genetic contribution. Less than 2% in regions like Iberia where it is highest and much lower elsewhere.

Preface: your empty blog says a lot about your investment in having asked this question, but I know a lot of people think this crap, so here it goes.

I don’t just refute your assertions, I refute your entire premise and its framing.

First of all, look up “People of Color.”  Or don’t, because I just linked it. “PoC” and “subsaharan African” (??) aren’t synonyms. Not even close.

Secondly, race isn’t genetic the way you’re implying. At all. It’s a social and political category.

Have a lecture from Dr. Charles W. Mills on scientific racism, bad biology, and race as a sociopolitical category/concept [video lecture].

The University of King’s College lecture series “Conceptions of Race in Philosophy, Literature and Art” examines how the notion of race and the phenomenon of racism have developed in the Western tradition. Dr. Charles W. Mills, author of The Racial Contract, gave the inaugural lecture in Halifax on September 16, 2010.

Thirdly, your “information” is wrong. You pulled that “2%” out of a hat, considering that widescale genetic testing of entire regional populations for “race” is not a thing that happens. You’re trying to pass off something you probably came across in physical anthropology as race theory that somehow also applies to art/history, and no.

Just, no.

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Plankton is not just whale food

Scientists  unveiled the most comprehensive analysis ever undertaken of the world’s ocean plankton, the tiny organisms that serve as food for marine creatures such as the blue whale, but also provide half the oxygen we breathe. The researchers spent 3-½ years aboard the schooner Tara, taking 35,000 samples of plankton from 210 sites globally, determining the distribution of the organisms, tracking how they interact with one another and carrying out genetic analyses.

Plankton include microscopic plants and animals, fish larvae, bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms that drift in the oceans.

“Plankton are much more than just food for the whales,” said Chris Bowler, a research director at France’s National Center for Scientific Research, and one of the scientists involved in the study published in the journal Science. “Although tiny, these organisms are a vital part of the Earth’s life support system, providing half of the oxygen generated each year on Earth by photosynthesis and lying at the base of marine food chains on which all other ocean life depends.”

The scientists conducted the largest DNA sequencing effort ever done in ocean science, pinpointing around 40 million plankton genes, most previously unknown. Much of the plankton was more genetically diverse than previously known. However, the genetic diversity of marine viruses was much lower than anticipated.

By removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and converting it into organic carbon via photosynthesis, plankton provide a buffer against the increased carbon dioxide being generated by the burning of fossil fuels, Bowler said.

Read more (via reuters.com)

Images (via scientificamerican.com)

A new study suggests that Holocaust survivors’ descendants may have altered stress hormones because of epigenetics. (thanks tinglealley.)

Claims that these kinds of epigenetic changes – changes in the expression of our genes – are heritable remain somewhat contentious, but the studies keep coming and the evidence that this is possible really seems to be mounting. Two fascinating books on the subject are Tim Spector’s Identically Different: Why You Can Change Your Genes, based on his years of studying identical twins as a professor of genetic epidemiology, and Sharon Moalem’s Inheritance: How Our Genes Change Our Lives and Our Lives Change Our Genes, based on his work in rare diseases, neurogenetics, and biotechnology.

Some recent articles:

Canadian scientists double the size of ants in experiment

Canadian scientists have managed to double the size of experimental ants by unlocking the mystery of how an animal’s environment affects how big it grows.

“It’s kind of making big news,” said Ehab Abouheif of McGill University’s evolutionary and developmental biology lab and co-author of a paper published Wednesday in Nature Communications.

Abouheif and his fellow researchers, including McGill geneticist Moshe Syzf, started by looking at ant colonies and asking: Why are some ants of the same species big and other ones small?

Continue Reading.

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A brief history of articles showing a handful of the human and human/animal DNA experiments the public knows about. 

Sources:

1: http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/animals/using/hybridembryos_1.shtml

2: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2017818/Embryos-involving-genes-animals-mixed-humans-produced-secretively-past-years.html

3: http://www.infowars.com/u-s-super-soldiers-of-the-future-will-be-genetically-modified-transhumans-capable-of-superhuman-feats/

4: http://qz.com/389494/chinese-researchers-are-the-first-to-genetically-modify-a-human-embryo-and-many-scientists-think-theyve-gone-too-far/

Human embryos successfully edited by Chinese researchers via CRISPR-Cas9

By Antonio Regalado -

In an ethically charged first, Chinese researchers have used gene editing to modify human embryos obtained from an in-vitro fertilization clinic.

The 16-person scientific team, based at the Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China, set out to see whether it could correct the gene defect that causes beta-thalassemia, a blood disease, by editing the DNA of fertilized eggs.

READ MORE ON MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW

Ref:   CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene editing in human tripronuclear zygotes. Protein & Cell (2015) | DOI:10.​1007/​s13238-015-0153-5

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Wealth and power may have played stronger role than ‘survival of the fittest’

In a study led by scientists from Arizona State University, the University of Cambridge, University of Tartu and Estonian Biocentre, researchers discovered a dramatic decline in genetic diversity in male lineages 4,000 to 8,000 years ago – likely the result of the accumulation of material wealth, while in contrast, female genetic diversity was on the rise. This male-specific decline occurred during the mid- to late-Neolithic period.

“Instead of ‘survival of the fittest’ in a biological sense, the accumulation of wealth and power may have increased the reproductive success of a limited number of ‘socially fit’ males and their sons,” said Melissa Wilson Sayres, a leading author and assistant professor with ASU’s School of Life Sciences.

The study was published March 13 in an online issue of the journal Genome Research.

Read more

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Human Genetics Highlights

In celebration of DNA Day, 23andMe took a look back at highlights in human genetics history. From the first published paper on DNA in 1953 to the first GWAS in 2005, here are some noteworthy innovations in genetics, including 23andMe company milestones. 

Happy DNA Day!

source

On April 24, 2003, shortly after the completion of the human genome project, its director Francis Collins and his team posed 15 grand challenges to the scientific community. They dared researchers to harness the genome to crack puzzles of biology, health, and society. In particular, they called for genome-based tools to close health disparities. Since then, the United States has pumped more than $1 billion a year into genomics research. What do we have to show for it?

“What we found in the literature published from 2007 to 2013 was basically nothing,” said Jay Kaufman, the lead author of the first study to examine available genetic data for evidence that explains a major racial-health disparity. For many years, researchers speculated that what they couldn’t explain about disparities must be the fingerprint of some mysterious genetic component. But since they are now able to scan the entire genome, this speculation appears both lazy and wrong. When it comes to why many black people die earlier than white people in the U.S., Kaufman and his colleagues show we’ve been looking for answers in the wrong places: We shouldn’t be looking in the twists of the double helix, but the grinding inequality of the environment.