Category Archives: Biology

A New Business Line for Kinko’s/Fedex?

Oh, man, this is so cool. Scientist have taken the idea of 3D printing to new heights. They are printing out body parts!

The team wrote, “We present an integrated tissue-organ printer (ITOP) that can fabricate stable, human-scale tissue constructs of any shape. The correct shape of tissue construct is obtained from human body by processing computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data in computer-aided design software”.

Source: Scientists print out living human body parts using combination of living cells and special gel | NH Voice

Just think, you get your ear cut off, you run down to Kinko’s and get a new one printed. Heck, don’t like your current girl friend? Just print out a new one.

Chicken embryo grows face of dinosaur

Scientists have figured out the genes responsible for creating a beak rather than a snout in birds and have had success in creating a chicken with a dinosaur’s snout. However, they didn’t hatch the eggs. I’m puzzled by that.

For now Bhullar has no plans, or ethical approval, to hatch the snouted chickens. But he believes they would have been able to survive “just fine”.

Source: BBC – Earth – Chicken grows face of dinosaur

Seriously, if they have created the embryo just to destroy before it hatches then what’s the ethical difference in allowing them to hatch and then destroying them an hour or so later?

So You Say We Need GMOs To Feed the World?

Small scale farmers in Russia are showing us that it doesn’t take a huge, industrial farm to produce the food required to feed mass quantities of people. These small scale, organic Russian family farms, usually less than an acre in size, are providing the bulk of fruits and vegetables to the country.

According to some statistics, they grow 92% of the entire countries’ potatoes, 77% of its vegetables, 87% of its fruit, and feed 71% of the entire population from privately owned, organic farms or house gardens all across the country.

via The Russians Prove Small Scale Organic CAN Feed the World.

This is reportedly being done without pesticides, without herbicides and without genetically modified, patented seeds.

Monsanto GMO wheat threatens US exports

Remember that report I gave you yesterday about GMO wheat appearing on an Oregon farm? Fall out from that report was quick. Japan is suspending certain wheat purchases until we sort this mess out.

Japanese authorities have already opted to cancel part of a tender offer to buy US western white wheat and have suspended imports of both that variety and feed wheat, Reuters reported on Thursday.”We will refrain from buying western white and feed wheat effective today,” Toru Hisadome, a Japanese farm ministry official in charge of wheat trading, told the agency.

via Discovery of Monsanto GMO wheat threatens US exports — RT News.

This is not good news for the American wheat farmer. Japan is the largest exporter of our wheat behind Mexico so that’s a big sector of our market just disappearing. Other Asian buyers of our wheat are considering the same course of action.

How’d That Get There?

A farmer in Oregon finds some weeds growing where they shouldn’t be so he hit ’em with Roundup®. They didn’t die. Finding that to be very peculiar he takes those weeds to Oregon State University where they test them where they find that this is wheat containing the Monsanto® Roundup Ready® gene.

This is disturbing in that GMO wheat has not been approved for commercial use. Monsanto hasn’t field tested Roundup Ready® wheat since 2005 and there have been no field tests of Roundup Ready® wheat in Oregon since 2001! Where did this come from? Where else could it be? Is it going to show up on an organic farm next?

The Agriculture Department attempted to allay our fears with this statement:

The department said it was not known yet whether any of the wheat got into the food supply or into grain shipments. Even if it did, officials said, it would pose no threat to health. The Food and Drug Administration reviewed the wheat and found no safety problems with it in 2004.

via Modified Wheat Is Discovered in Oregon – NYTimes.com. via Flutterby

I may have an argument with them over whether or not any GMO crop is truly safe and poses no health problems but there is no arguing over the fact that free range GMO wheat just popping up where it isn’t planted poses a very clear and imminent economic threat to our wheat farmers.

SCOTUS Sides With Monsanto and Obama Helped.

The Supreme Court has sided with Monsanto in a patent case that I really wish it hadn’t. A farmer bought commodity seeds from a local co-op for a late season soybean crop. The seeds were contaminated with DNA from Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybeans which made them herbicide resistant. The farmer noticed this but used seeds from this new crop to plant subsequent late season soybean crops.

The farmer, Vernon Bowman, was a Monsanto customer. His early season soybean crop had been sowed with Monsanto seed he had purchased from Monsanto. He had agreed to Monsanto’s licensing agreement. He knew his late season crop was most likely tainted with Monsanto’s Roundup Ready DNA because it was resistant to Roundup yet he saved seeds from this crop to replant anyway. It’s hard to argue against Monsanto on this regardless of how much I’d like to.

What really troubles me about this is that the Obama Administration chose to get involved and support Monsanto when they could have just kept quiet. This on the heels of the Obama Administration signing into law the Monsanto Protection Act makes me wonder.

The Obama administration had told the Supreme Court in a filing that the justices should not concern themselves with the possibility that such rigid patent protectionism could undermine traditional farming techniques, where parts of one harvest are often used to produce the next. The administration said Congress “is better equipped than this court” to consider those concerns.

via Supreme Court Backs Patents on Seeds Self-Replicating Technology | Threat Level | Wired.com.

I have to admit, though. He’s right. Congress is better equipped  to resolve this issue. I’d like to see a law passed making pollen in the wild free from any licensure. This might encourage Monsanto and other biotech seed producers to find ways to contain their pollen and prevent GMOs from contaminating our entire food supply.

Barton Parsley

Thursday, 20-Dec-2012

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I find this story amazing. Years ago I read Larry Niven’s Ringworld where Nessus, a Pierson’s Puppeteer, lopped off one of his heads. He was then placed in his cocoon, which had spare parts for him and the cocoon fixed him back up. Little by little every science fiction book I’ve read is becoming reality on some level. So would I like to live to be 1000 if I could retain my health at least as it is now? Absolutely. I want to find out what we manage to achieve next.

Dolly is dead.

Dolly the Sheep is dead. She was the first cloned mammal. Created in 1996 by Scotland’s Roslin Institute when they fused the nucleus of a cell taken from one sheep’s mammary tissue with the egg cell from another sheep, Dolly provoked controversy with people saying that cloned humans couldn’t be far off.

Dolly gave birth to a daughter, Bonnie, in 1998. Dolly died from a lethal injection given to her by veterinarians after it was discovered that she had signs of a progressive lung disease.

“Dolly is dead. I can confirm that,” a spokeswoman at the institute told Reuters.

We will all miss her.