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Independent Science News

Independent Science News - 2017-03-21 - Original post - cached version

by Jonathan Latham, PhD Many people date the DNA revolution to the discovery of its structure by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953. But really it began thirty years before, conceived by the mind of John D Rockefeller, Sr. Thus it is fitting that DNA is named after him. ...

Independent Science News - 2017-03-13 - Original post - cached version

by Meredith Rector (Committee on U.S.-Latin American Relations (CUSLAR)) Growing mangoes in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca has racked up an enormous socio-political expense for the region far greater than the price tag on the fruit in the supermarket. For a Mexican drug cartel desperate to...

Independent Science News - 2017-02-13 - Original post - cached version

by Jonathan Latham, PhD One of the central issues of our day is how to safely manage the outputs of industrial innovation. Novel products incorporating nanotechnology, biotechnology, rare metals, microwaves, novel chemicals, and more, enter the market on a daily basis. Yet none of these products...

Independent Science News - 2017-02-06 - Original post - cached version

by Jonathan Latham, PhD Test your understanding of the living world with this simple question. What kind of biomolecule is found in all living organisms? If your answer is “DNA”, you are incorrect. The mistake is very forgiveable though. The standard English-language biology education casts DNA...

Independent Science News - 2017-01-30 - Original post - cached version

by Robert G. Wallace Multiple outbreaks of deadly H5 bird flu are decimating poultry across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The epidemic, moving across Eurasia in wave after wave, follows an eruption of H5N2 here in the U.S. in 2015. All the new strains—H5N2, H5N3, H5N5, H5N6, H5N8, and ......

Independent Science News - 2017-01-24 - Original post - cached version

by Jonathan Latham, PhD The GMO labeling issue has quieted down some but there is still plenty to discuss. Just this week the USDA proposed to redefine GMOs with new loopholes for gene editing. However, it is also possible for reasonable people to imagine that GMO labeling is a sideshow ...

Independent Science News - 2016-10-04 - Original post - cached version

by Jonathan Latham, PhD Who would have thought that at Cornell University, arguably the most highly regarded agricultural university in the world, no scientist would speak for the benefits and safety of GMOs? Perhaps I should have known, however. Last year I was invited to debate the merits of...

Independent Science News - 2016-09-20 - Original post - cached version

by Jonathan Latham, PhD In 1381, for the first and only time, the dreaded Tower of London was captured from the King of England. The forces that seized it did not belong to a foreign power; nor were they rebellious workers – they were peasants who went on to behead ...

Independent Science News - 2016-08-21 - Original post - cached version

by Steven M. Druker, J.D. Although it purports to be based on solid science and the open flow of information on which science depends, the massive venture to reconfigure the genetic core of the world’s food supply has substantially relied on the propagation of falsehoods. Its advancement and...

Independent Science News - 2016-08-10 - Original post - cached version

by Angelika Hilbeck and Hans Herren The recent Nobel laureates’ letter accusing Greenpeace of a “crime against humanity” for opposing genetically modified (GMO) golden rice reveals a deep division not only between civil societies and some science circles but also within the science community – a...

Independent Science News - 2016-08-08 - Original post - cached version

by Almuth Ernsting Subsidies intended for next-generation cellulosic ethanol production are to be applied to a trivial improvement to corn ethanol refining technologies. Since cellulosic ethanol qualifies for much higher subsidies, this will significantly increase corn refinery profits and boost...

Independent Science News - 2016-08-01 - Original post - cached version

My name is Robert, and I am a Cornell University undergraduate student. However, I’m not sure if I want to be one any more. Allow me to explain. Cornell, as an institution, appears to be complicit in a shocking amount of ecologically destructive, academically unethical, and scientifically...

Independent Science News - 2016-07-11 - Original post - cached version

by Ted Greiner, PhD What better way to discredit your critics than to rope in 107 naive Nobel Prize winners (all without relevant expertise) to criticize your opposition? But such tactics are not new. Long ago, the GMO industry spent well over $50 million to promote “Golden Rice” as the ...

Independent Science News - 2016-07-01 - Original post - cached version

by Jonathan Latham, PhD Greenpeace was denied entrance yesterday (June 30) to a National Press Club Event in Washington, DC of 107 Nobel Laureates. The event was ostensibly organised by a scientific group calling itself Support Precision Agriculture to publicise a letter signed by 107 Nobel...

Independent Science News - 2016-06-29 - Original post - cached version

by Jonathan Latham, PhD The National Academy of Sciences needs to urgently address its one-sided work on GMOs say public-interest groups, farmer organisations, and academics. In a letter sent to the Academy’s president today, dozens of stakeholders drew attention to what they called a “troubling...

Independent Science News - 2016-05-24 - Original post - cached version

by Elizabeth Henderson At one of the public brainstorming sessions for the New York Organic Action Plan, an organic farmer made an impassioned plea for support for “independent science” and told us that with 8.5 billion mouths to feed by 2050, we will need genetic engineering to prevent...

Independent Science News - 2016-05-16 - Original post - cached version

by Jonathan Latham, PhD Piecemeal, and at long last, chemical manufacturers have begun removing the endocrine-disrupting plastic bisphenol-A (BPA) from products they sell. Sunoco no longer sells BPA for products that might be used by children under three. France has a national ban on BPA food...

Independent Science News - 2016-04-25 - Original post - cached version

by Jonathan Latham, PhD For the benefit of those parts of the world where public acceptance of biotechnology is incomplete, a public relations blitz is at full tilt. It concerns an emerging set of methods for altering the DNA of living organisms. “Easy DNA Editing Will Remake the World. Buckle...

Independent Science News - 2016-03-14 - Original post - cached version

By Almuth Ernsting Biofuels consumed today are usually ethanol made from the sugar in sugar cane (or sugar beet) or they may be made from starch in grains. In the US this is mostly corn starch. Alternatively, biodiesel may be made from plant oils such as soybean or canola oil. ...

Independent Science News - 2016-03-07 - Original post - cached version

by John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C. A French man died last month and five others in the same clinical trial were hospitalized after they took an experimental drug. The drug had been deemed safe for humans after having been tested on chimpanzees in preclinical trials. The National Institutes of...

Independent Science News - 2016-03-02 - Original post - cached version

by Jonathan Latham, PhD Many current pesticides in the European Union appear to have been approved illegally the Ombudsman of the EU has said. This judgment was reached on Feb 22nd by the EU Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, following an official complaint against the European Commission’s Directorate...

Independent Science News - 2016-02-29 - Original post - cached version

by Salvatore Ceccarelli, PhD Five of the global issues most frequently debated today are the decline of biodiversity in general and of agrobiodiversity in particular, climate change, hunger and malnutrition, poverty and water. Seed is central to all five issues. The way in which seed is produced...

Independent Science News - 2015-12-11 - Original post - cached version

by Steven M. Druker An ardent attempt is afoot on Capitol Hill to prevent states from requiring the labeling of genetically engineered foods – made especially urgent by the fact that Vermont’s labeling bill is set to take effect July 1st. Although proponents of these foods scored a major victory...

Independent Science News - 2015-12-01 - Original post - cached version

By Rachel Smolker, PhD When the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) published their most recent fifth assessment report, something surprising and deeply disturbing was lurking in the small print in chapter three on “mitigation”. The IPCC revealed that to achieve even a recognizably...

Independent Science News - 2015-11-30 - Original post - cached version

(UC STUDENTS’ OPEN LETTER TO THE EXTERNAL ADVISORY BOARD OF THE AGRICULTURAL SUSTAINABILITY INSTITUTE (ASI) & SAREP) As the students of the University of California, we come to you today to share our often silenced voices, our vision, and concerns we have about our common future. Our...

Independent Science News - 2015-11-21 - Original post - cached version

By Valerie Brown and Elizabeth Grossman Scientists are trained to express themselves rationally. They avoid personal attacks when they disagree. But some scientific arguments become so polarized that tempers fray. There may even be shouting. Such is the current state of affairs between two camps...

Independent Science News - 2015-11-02 - Original post - cached version

By Tracy Frisch As in other parts of North America, beekeepers in New York have been experiencing unsustainable losses of honeybee colonies. In 2014-15, annual colony losses in New York reached 54 per cent, according to the Bee Informed Partnership survey. And though losses were lower in...

Independent Science News - 2015-10-26 - Original post - cached version

By Jonathan Latham, PhD Pregnant goats fed with genetically engineered (GE) soybeans have offspring who grow more slowly and are shorter, according to a new Italian study (Tudisco et al., 2015). Publishing in the journal of Small Ruminant Research, the researchers were testing the results of...

Independent Science News - 2015-10-05 - Original post - cached version

By T. Colin Campbell (Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus, Cornell University) A recent publication, which received sustained media attention, claimed that most cancers are just “bad luck” (Tomasetti and Vogelstein 2015). Its authors stated that only about one-third of cancer mutations are...

Independent Science News - 2015-09-08 - Original post - cached version

by Jonathan Latham, PhD “Reading the emails make(s) me want to throw up” tweeted the Food Babe after reading a lengthy series of them posted online by the NY Times on Sept 5th. The emails in question result from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and are posted in ...

Independent Science News - 2015-08-31 - Original post - cached version

Jonathan R. Latham, PhD By training, I am a plant biologist. In the early 1990s I was busy making genetically modified plants (often called GMOs for Genetically Modified Organisms) as part of the research that led to my PhD. Into these plants we were putting DNA from various foreign organisms...

Independent Science News - 2015-07-27 - Original post - cached version

By Rob Wallace The notion of a neoliberal Ebola is so beyond the pale as to send leading lights in ecology and health into apoplectic fits. Here’s one of bestseller David Quammen’s five tweets denouncing my hypothesis that neoliberalism drove the emergence of Ebola in West Africa. I’m an “addled...

Independent Science News - 2015-07-17 - Original post - cached version

By Evaggelos Vallianatos Morton Biskind, a physician from Westport, Connecticut, was a courageous man. At the peak of the cold war, in 1953, he complained of maladies afflicting both domestic animals and people for the first time. He concluded that the popular insect poison DDT was the agent of...

Independent Science News - 2015-05-18 - Original post - cached version

by Jonathan Latham, PhD The decision of the Chipotle restaurant chain to make its product lines GMO-free is not most people’s idea of a world-historic event. Especially since Chipotle, by US standards, is not a huge operation. A clear sign that the move is significant, however, is that Chipotle’...

Independent Science News - 2015-05-12 - Original post - cached version

By George Wuerthner A growing debate has serious consequences for our collective relationship to Nature. Beginning perhaps twenty years ago, a number of academics in disciplines such as history, anthropology, and geography, began to question whether there was any tangible wilderness or wild...

Independent Science News - 2015-04-20 - Original post - cached version

By Jonathan Latham, PhD Pretty much every branch of the US government has had trouble implementing President Obama’s flagship scientific integrity policy. In 2011, the US Department of the Interior (DOI) appointed the scientist Dr. Paul Houser to be its first ever Officer of Scientific Integrity...

Independent Science News - 2015-04-04 - Original post - cached version

By Jonathan Latham, PhD USDA researchers have identified the neonicotinoid insecticide clothianidin as a likely contributor to monarch butterfly declines in North America. The USDA research is published in the journal Science of Nature and was published online on April 3rd (Pecenka and Lundgren...

Independent Science News - 2015-03-18 - Original post - cached version

By Evaggelos Vallianatos In May 2014, the Spain-based international agrarian organization, Grain, reported that small farmers not only “feed the world with less than a quarter of all farmland,” but they are also the most productive farmers on Earth. For example, small farmers and peasants in...

Independent Science News - 2015-03-09 - Original post - cached version

by Gilles Billen, Luis Lassaletta and Josette Garnier Globalisation is not only a matter of clothing and mobile phones. Long-distance worldwide shipping of food commodities has also increased tremendously over the last few decades. Lassaletta et al. (2014) estimate that one-third of all proteins...

Independent Science News - 2015-02-23 - Original post - cached version

Book Author: Evaggelos Vallianatos with McKay Jenkins Reviewed by: Carol Van Strum “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts,” Richard Feynman famously declared in 1966. Ever quick to challenge accepted wisdom, he distinguished the laudable ignorance of science, forever seeking...

Independent Science News - 2015-01-12 - Original post - cached version

By Jonathan Latham, PhD By conventional wisdom it is excellent news. Researchers from Iowa have shown that organic farming methods can yield almost as highly as pesticide-intensive methods. Other researchers, from Berkeley, California, have reached a similar conclusion. Indeed, both findings met...

Independent Science News - 2014-12-15 - Original post - cached version

by Dr Vandana Shiva (A response to the article ‘Seeds of Doubt’ by Michael Specter in The New Yorker) I am glad that the future of food is being discussed, and thought about, on farms, in homes, on TV, online and in magazines, especially of The New Yorker’s caliber. The ...

Independent Science News - 2014-11-24 - Original post - cached version

Book Authors: Michelle Bamberger and Robert Oswald Reviewed by Allison Wilson (The Bioscience Resource Project) The first researchers to systematically document ill health in livestock, pets, and people living near fracking drill sites were Michelle Bamberger and Robert Oswald. Bamberger, a...

Independent Science News - 2014-06-09 - Original post - cached version

US EPA’s 503 sludge rule (1993) allows treated sewage sludges, aka biosolids, to be land-applied to farms, forests, parks, school playgrounds, home gardens and other private and public lands. According to a recent EPA survey, biosolids contain a wide range of mutagenic and neurotoxic chemicals,...

Independent Science News - 2014-06-05 - Original post - cached version

by Helen Wallace, GeneWatch UK The new Chief Executive of the National Health Service (NHS) in England, Simon Stevens, was recently reported arguing that the NHS must be transformed to make people’s personal genetic information the basis of their treatments (1). His proposition is unsurprising...

Independent Science News - 2014-05-26 - Original post - cached version

By Jonathan Latham, PhD EU documents newly obtained by the nonprofit Pesticide Action Network of Europe reveal that the health commission of the European Union (DG SANCO), which is responsible for protecting public health, is attempting to develop a procedural “escape route” to evade an upcoming...

Independent Science News - 2014-05-20 - Original post - cached version

by John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C. “The history of cancer research has been a history of curing cancer in the mouse. We have cured mice of cancer for decades—and it simply didn’t work in humans.” This statement was made by Richard Klausner, M.D., former director of the National Cancer Institute...

Independent Science News - 2014-05-12 - Original post - cached version

By Dr. Gerry Goeden It’s true; about 50 percent of the fish we eat are farmed. There is good reason for this as, one by one, the world’s commercial fisheries collapse through overfishing. According to FAO (2010), 70% of the world’s large commercial fisheries have either failed or are not ...

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