Project News and Views
“The Meaning of Life (Part I)” by Jonathan Latham, PhD was published on Tuesday 21st March, 2017 by Independent Science News.
From the author: This article is highly relevant to the food movement. We hope it will become (along with “Genetics Is Giving Way to a New Science of Life”) an essential text in the education of food producers, food activists, and environmentalists. The connections between food concerns and genetics are many:
1) a gene-centric view of life is a vast diminishment of biological possibilities, including but not limited to minimising or denying the possibility that you or your customers may be harmed by poisons and pesticides, or that your farming can be improved by changes to the system and not just by the genes in the crop. 2) A gene-centric view of life is inherently reductionistic.
3) Because a gene-centric view of life is reductionistic, like any reductionist concept, is easily twisted for commercial or political purposes because it removes the key elements of understanding from a form in which anyone can understand them (like overall health) into a formulation that can be misrepresented or mismeasured—this is the scientific basis of promoting “superfoods” and vitamin pills over natural foods, for example.
For reasons such as these I wrote in the article: “A genetically determinist society is therefore one not capable of understanding itself as directly at risk from irresponsible corporate activities and government indifference. It is fundamentally defenceless against polluters, junk food marketers, community dislocation, and other threats to human integrity.
In a wider political frame, the history of the 20th Century shows that a genetic determinist society is also vulnerable to fascists, racists, dictators, and warmongers. All this too is the product of a century and a half of the manipulation of biological science.”
Article Synopsis: In a previous article I showed that DNA does not deserve its reputation as a biological “master molecule” and that it has no special powers of organismal control. To prove it, in diverse disciplines of biology, compelling alternative explanations of biological phenomena—as properties of systems and not genes—are emerging that refute traditional thinking. This paradigm-shifting conclusion, outlined in “Genetics Is Giving Way to a New Science of Life”, nevertheless begs an obvious question. If the role of a master molecule was truly scientifically undeserved, how could DNA ever be considered to occupy it?
The answer, it turns out, is that DNA has a fascinating but little-known scientific history. It was consciously fashioned into its role by wealthy institutions who were helped by influential scientists. This remarkable historical manipulation of the science of genetics is solidly documented and it explains how DNA emerged as a master molecule even in the absence of the necessary scientific evidence. This aspect of DNA has been largely ignored by historians of science who have assumed that this manipulation was tangential to the history of biology and merely sped up the inevitable discovery and understanding of DNA. The new developments in systems biology show, instead, that this manipulation subverted the whole course of scientific history and turned biology, in effect, on its head.
Read the full article at: https://www.independentsciencenews.org/health/the-meaning-of-life-part-i/
Published on Monday, March 13 by Independent Science News: “The War Over Mangoes,” written by Meredith Rector
Synopsis: Narco-agriculture is the taking over of farming for the purpose of smuggling and money laundering. A recent victim is the mango farming sector in Oaxaco, Mexico, where drug cartels have taken advantage of the leading position of Oaxaca in the world mango trade. Farmers and the workers are now suffering as a consequence.
To read the complete story go to: https://www.independentsciencenews.org/environment/the-war-over-mangoes/
Published onMon Feb 13, 2017 on Independent Science News: “Gene Drives: A Scientific Case for a Complete and Perpetual Ban” was written by Jonathan Latham, PhD.
Synopsis: At what point do the products of a technology become sufficiently complex, uncertain, or unmanageable as to be unregulatable? This question is surprisingly rarely discussed given that it is key to successful and safe technological development. This article examines and compares the properties of indisputably successfully regulated systems, such as airplanes, with less successful examples of government regulation and applies these lessons to gene drives.
Read the full article at: Gene Drives: A Scientific Case for a Complete and Perpetual Ban
The article is also printed in GeneWatch Magazine at https://issuu.com/genewatchmagazine/docs/genewatch_30-1
Published on Monday Feb 6, 2017 by Independent Science News: “Genetics Is Giving Way to a New Science of Life” was written by Jonathan Latham, PhD.
Synopsis: “Genes…run everything in our bodies” states the website of the US National Institutes of Health. This view is genetic determinism. It is the idea that DNA is a master molecule that controls living organisms and it has been the conceptual foundation of biology for over 100 years. However, exactly twenty years ago, Prof Richard Strohman, of UC Berkeley, predicted of genetic determinism that “this paradigm has little power and must eventually fail” (in Nature Biotechnology 15: 194-200, 1997).
That day of failure has now arrived. More
Published on Monday Jan 30, 2017, by Independent Science News: “Industrial Production of Poultry Gives Rise to Deadly Strains of Bird Flu H5Nx” was written by Rob Wallace, PhD. The article can be read at: https://www.independentsciencenews.org/health/industrial-production-of-poultry-gives-rise-to-deadly-strains-of-bird-flu-h5nx/
Synopsis: Multiple deadly new strains of H5N bird flu are successively infecting poultry farms across the globe. These pathogens are killing millions of farmed birds and threaten human outbreaks. Thanks to industry-funded research, blame is usually placed on wild bird populations and climate change. According to new research, however, the real culprit is escaping that judgment. It is factory farm conditions such as cramped housing, genetic uniformity, and the rapid cycling of birds.
Rob Wallace is an epidemiologist and animal health expert.
Read the full article at: Industrial Production of Poultry Gives Rise to Deadly Strains of Bird Flu H5Nx
Published on Jan 24, 2017 on Independent Science News: “There’s Nothing Parochial About the Issue of GMO Food Labeling,” a new article by Jonathan Latham, PhD.
Synopsis: Last week, Michael Pollan, Olivier de Schutter, Mark Bittman and Ricardo Salvador called GMO labeling “parochial”. They are mistaken. GMOs are the leading edge of agribusiness strategy in intellectual, financial, and legal senses. They have enabled huge profits and leveraged the concentration of the global seed supply, while at the same time boosting sales of herbicides and pesticides. Labeling, on the other hand, is a mechanism for introducing democracy and the protection of consumer rights, possibilities that are everywhere in short supply. It should not be dismissed or diminished.
Go to There’s Nothing Parochial About the Issue of GMO Food Labeling to read the full article.
The Bioscience Resource Project provides scientific and intellectual resources for a healthy future. It publishes Independent Science News, a media service devoted to food and agriculture, and their impacts on health and the environment. It also offers resources for scientists and educators and internships and training for students. Through its innovative scientific journalism and original biosafety review articles, the project provides unique and revealing perspectives on issues that are fundamental to the survival of people and the planet. The project does not accept advertising or corporate funding and is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. It is completely dependent on individual donations.
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