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Tag Archives: science policy
After two long days of shooting and hundreds of hours of editing, the American Society for Microbiology and This Week in Virology are proud to release the documentary “Threading the NEIDL.” This video provides an unprecedented (and probably never-to-be-duplicated) look … Continue reading
Like most Americans, I felt a visceral surge of patriotic pride when I heard that we’d killed Osama bin Laden: pride in the President who ordered and orchestrated the bold raid, pride in the military that carried it out, and … Continue reading
I got a call last night from Mike Osterholm, noted epidemiologist and member of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB). He wanted to talk about H5N1 flu – if you don’t know why, scroll down to the previous … Continue reading
The recent dustup about The H5N1 Bird Flu Plague That Will Kill Us All (not) has brought the topic of “bioterrorism” into the media spotlight again. This is an issue I’ve been following for several years, and during that time … Continue reading
Someone just asked me what I thought of Michael Eisen’s op-ed piece that came out in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago. Eisen wrote about a new bill in Congress that would roll back a NIH policy … Continue reading
This afternoon, a coalition of influenza virologists released a statement saying that they are voluntarily suspending research on H5N1 “bird flu” for 60 days. This was in response to the Category 5 hype storm that has accompanied the publication of … Continue reading
This is pretty amusing. A few days ago, I got a press release from an Institutional Review Board (IRB) contractor called Coast IRB. IRBs are the organizations that monitor human clinical research to make sure everything is done in accordance … Continue reading
Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) has a thought-provoking editorial in the 11 May issue of Science:
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) languished in past Congresses for 12 years. But finally, new leadership in the House of Representatives has given the bill its best chance to become law since its introduction in 1995. On 25 April, GINA passed the House by a vote of 420 to 3. The act will prohibit health insurers from denying coverage or charging higher premiums to a healthy individual solely because they possess a genetic predisposition to develop a disease in the future. It will also bar employers from using genetic information in hiring, firing, job placement, or promotion decisions.
She goes on to argue that genetic discrimination is a real and insidious danger, and that the new legislation is critical to stopping it. While I do believe that people are already facing uninformed discrimination on the basis of primitive, misinterpreted genetic tests, I’m not convinced that we should have an inalienable right to keep our genetic information secret from insurers and employers. Currently, insurers can ask if I have a family history of, say, cancer or diabetes. That’s genetic information. So if a test comes along that makes solid predictions from my actual DNA sequence, rather than a potentially flawed inference from vague family history data, why am I suddenly allowed to keep that a secret? Continue reading
Today’s New York Times brings a sobering story:
A 2-year-old boy spent seven weeks in the hospital and nearly died from a viral infection he got from the smallpox vaccination his father received before shipping out to Iraq, according to a government report and the doctors who treated him.
The boy, who lives in Indiana and has recovered, became ill in early March, two weeks after his father’s deployment was delayed and he was allowed to make a trip home. Over the next few weeks, the boy suffered kidney failure and lost most of his skin to the disease, eczema vaccinatum.
By my count, “bioterrorism” has killed somewhere around six Americans. How many have been killed and maimed by the multi-billion-dollar-and-mushrooming “biodefense” response? Continue reading
Entomologically-minded readers of the Federal Register (you know who you are) might have noticed an interesting item shortly before Christmas: in the 19 December issue, the Department of Agriculture posted this note asking for the public’s thoughts about genetically modifying insect pests. Specifically, they’re working on inserting some choice genes into fruit flies and pink bollworms, then releasing the re-engineered critters into the environment. I’m sure the usual naysayers will soon be screaming about Frankenflies (which, by the way, would be a good name for a band), but this project could actually be a tremendous boon to the environment.
Pink bollworm life cycle, image courtesy USDA Continue reading