Association for Molecular Pathology, cancer, cures, diseases, DNA, Elite, genes, Genetics, greed, Human Genome Project, Humans, money, Myriad Genetics, Patent, research, Science, Supreme Court, United States Patent and Trademark Office
Imagine you could be the key to curing a disease or reducing the risk of suffering from a debilitating ailment for millions of people. Then imagine that you couldn’t help find that cure, because the gene inside you that holds the secret is owned by a company that won’t allow for testing or further research without a significant payment.
No need to imagine. It has already happened.
DNA research has evolved rapidly since scientists learned we could map it. Your DNA is unique to you and only you. Well, kind of. The part that is unique to you is limited to small variations on the genes, amounting to approximately less than 1% of your DNA. The rest of it is shared with every other human being past, present and future. In April 2003, scientists identified the genetic code we all share. Called The Human Genome Project, they successfully mapped the genetic makeup of every human being that has ever existed. And it was cool.
The possibilities of having this data codified are endless. Great progress has been made in the past ten years understanding certain cancers and genetic diseases, not to mention the fortune companies can make on patenting them.
Yes, our genes are registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
When scientists sequence a gene, they make what is called a synthetic copy. It’s chemically the same and has the same properties that were created by nature. This has been going on for decades and is how we got to where we are with DNA science today. Being able to isolate this product of nature gives scientists the foundation to discover what makes us tick, and what makes us sick.
If they can afford the license, that is.
Patent law prohibits patenting anything that is considered a natural occurrence. While everyone would agree that there is nothing more natural than our cellular structure, some do argue that any physical (i.e., synthetic) copies of our genes aren’t “natural” and are, instead, a product of human ingenuity. Products can be patented. This is what Myriad Genetics has argued before the Supreme Court in The Association for Molecular Pathology vs. Myriad Genetics, Inc. Myriad owns the patent to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, having been the first to isolate them. Mutations in these two genes have been identified as a key indicator to the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers.
Angelina Jolie recently discussed her family history of breast cancer, as well as her decision to have a double mastectomy to reduce her risk in a New York Times op-ed. In it she indicated that she got tested for the BRCA1 gene. Myriad also owns the test for the gene, which costs thousands of dollars. They can charge whatever price they want, because no one else is allowed to test for it without going through them. In fact, nothing related to these two genes, including additional research, can be done without first going through Myriad.
Most women aren’t Angelina Jolie and most cannot afford thousands of dollars to determine their risk. Having such a barrier to access could have tremendous ramifications, considering that many populations, such as Eastern European women and African-American women, have a significantly high incidence of breast cancer, with black women having a 60% higher death rate.
It is unknown if a less expensive test could be developed. Because of Myriad’s patent, clinics and researchers would have to pay a license fee to even look into the possibility of developing a cheaper alternative. That’s assuming that Myriad would allow them to do the research at all.
It is estimated that almost 40% of human genes are patented. Many in the scientific community believe in, and understand the value of, collaborative efforts in the name of science. Still, the only reason to patent anything is to protect any future financial benefit. It is more than unsettling to know that the very building blocks of human life could be in the hands of a company that will only make it available to those most able to pay.
Edward R. Murrow asked Jonas Salk, the man who created the polio vaccine, who owned the patent to his life changing discovery. Mr. Salk famously replied, “Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”
This month the Supreme Court will let us know the answer.
Atmosphere, carbon dioxide, climate change, climate crisis, consumers, Dangerous, environment, fossil fuels, global, Global Warming, Hawaii, History, Humans, Mauna Loa, Mauna Loa Observatory, Records, world-wide
Earth’s atmosphere is entering a new era. A mountaintop research station that has been tracking carbon dioxide for more than 50 years says the level of that gas in our air has reached a milestone: 400 parts per million.
That number is one of the clearest measures of how human beings are changing the planet. It shows how much carbon we have put into the air from burning fossil fuels — and that carbon dioxide drives global warming.
This measurement comes from Mauna Loa, Hawaii, a remote volcano where the air is largely free of local influences.
Clouded Leopards Declared Extinct in Taiwan –
Take a good look at this animal, because you will never see one in the wild thanks to humanity’s destruction of the species and their natural habitat! Very sad and happening all too frequently these days. There are two left at the zoo there! That’s it.
Attorneys at Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a lawsuit on behalf of CFS, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) and seven other U.S. food safety, agriculture, public health and environmental groups to compel the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to respond to the groups’ three year-old petition which calls for immediate withdrawal of FDA’s approval of arsenic-containing compounds as feed additives for food animals. Filed the same day Consumer Reports released an alarming study on antibiotic resistance in turkey, the lawsuit highlights yet another gaping hole in FDA oversight of animal feed additives.
Arsenic is commonly added to poultry feed for the FDA-approved purposes of inducing faster weight gain on less feed, and creating the perceived appearance of a healthy color in meat from chickens, turkeys and hogs. Yet new studies increasingly link these practices to serious human health problems. The lawsuit filed last week seeks to force the FDA to fulfill its mandate to better protect the public from arsenic. The 2009 petition presented abundant science to FDA that organic arsenic compounds—like those added to animal feed—are directly toxic to animals and humans, but also that they convert to cancer-causing, inorganic arsenic inside of chickens, in manure-treated soil and in humans. Additional testing since submission of the 2009 petition demonstrates even greater cause for public concern and therefore greater urgency meriting FDA’s prompt attention.
“FDA could easily and immediately fix the problem,” said Paige Tomaselli, senior staff attorney with CFS, “but instead puts its head in the sand. We can only conclude the FDA is catering to the companies that continue to sell products containing arsenic that ends up in our food supply.”
“FDA leadership is asleep at the switch, if not turning a blind eye to public health,” said David Wallinga, MD, a physician with the IATP. “Seven years ago, IATP blew the whistle on FDA’s indifference to arsenic being needlessly fed to chickens and turkeys. More than a decade ago, we sounded the alarm on how FDA let the routine feeding of drugs to chickens and turkeys help ensure that Americans would eat meat often contaminated with bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics. We are filing suit because nothing much has changed.”
Read IATP’s 2006 full report, Playing Chicken: Avoiding Arsenic in Your Meat.
First approved as animal feed additives in the 1940s, arsenic-containing compounds remain legal for use in U.S. chicken, turkey and swine production. They were never approved as safe for animal feed in the European Union, Japan and many other countries.
Substantial evidence confirming the serious public health risks of using arsenic as a feed additive was provided as part of the 2009 petition to the FDA.
Since 2009, this evidence has continued to grow, yet the FDA still fails to respond to the 2009 petition:
While these efforts are a step in the right direction, they are far from the comprehensive approach that is necessary under the law to protect public health. For example, without an FDA ban in place, Alpharma is free to begin marketing Roxarsone at any time.
Organizations participating in the lawsuit include: Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Environmental Health, Center for Food Safety, Food Animal Concerns Trust, Food & Water Watch, Health Care Without Harm, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and San Francisco Bay Area Physicians for Social Responsibility.
Animals, Cancerous, Carcinogenic, citizens, Deadly, Drilling, Drinking Water, environment, environmental catastrophe, environmental disaster, Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, fracking, Gas Rush Stories, greed, Horizontal Fracking, human rights violations, Humans, Hydraulic Fracking, hydraulic fracturing, Hydraulic Fracturing or Fracking, Lethal, Marcellus Formation, Marcellus Shale, Mining, natural gas, PA DEP, Pennsylvania, poisonous, shale gas, shale gas formations, Toxic Chemicals, Toxic Compounds, U.S, United States, Well Water Contamination
The shale gas drilling boom has changed the lives of many Pennsylvanians. Two-thirds of Pennsylvania sits on top of Marcellus Shale, one of the world’s largest shale gas deposits. While some other states and countries are taking their time to figure out how to proceed with shale gas drilling, Pennsylvania has welcomed the gas industry and allowed it to move ahead at a rapid speed.
By featuring stories from Pennsylvania residents, including a cattle farmer who lost stock due to gas drilling, grain farmer who leased her land for drilling six years ago, company that is recycling frack wastewater and cancer-survivor-fractivist who helps people who have been negatively impacted by drilling, this documentary goes beyond the polarized fracking debate and humanizes the issue.
An independent filmmaker and journalist, Kirsi Jansa has been witnessing the many impacts of the shale gas drilling boom in Pennsylvania since early 2011. This 16-minute documentary, Life above Marcellus Shale 2011-2012, provides multiple perspectives of shale gas drilling. It is based on the first ten episodes of her short documentary series, Gas Rush Stories.
A committee of the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council released a report today that outlines problems with the Environmental Protection Agency’s oversight of dangerous pesticides that are hurting endangered species across the country. The report comes when the EPA is decades behind in assessing the effects of hundreds of chemicals on endangered wildlife.
“This report should jump-start a major reform of the EPA’s deeply flawed approach to approving powerful pesticides,” said Jonathan Evans, toxics and endangered species campaign director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The agency urgently needs to reform the pesticide review process and truly protect rare wildlife and people’s health.”
The report examines how the EPA and federal wildlife agencies — the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service — assess the harmful impacts of pesticides on the nation’s endangered species, and how to better protect endangered species from harmful chemicals. It finds that the EPA has not relied on the best scientific information available; has not effectively coordinated with expert wildlife agencies; and has not adequately analyzed the sub-lethal, indirect and cumulative effects of pesticides. The report recommends methods for addressing these problems.
Americans, Big Pharma, CDC, Centers for Disease Control, companies, corporations, Federal Government, Guinea pig, Health, health hazards, Health Problems, Humans, Toxic Chemicals, Toxic Compounds, toxins, U.S, U.S. Government, United States
A hidden epidemic is poisoning America. The toxins are in the air we breathe and the water we drink, in the walls of our homes and the furniture within them. We can’t escape it in our cars. It’s in cities and suburbs. It afflicts rich and poor, young and old. And there’s a reason why you’ve never read about it in the newspaper or seen a report on the nightly news: it has no name—and no antidote.
The culprit behind this silent killer is lead. And vinyl. And formaldehyde. And asbestos. And Bisphenol A. And polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). And thousands more innovations brought to us by the industries that once promised “better living through chemistry,” but instead produced a toxic stew that has made every American a guinea pig and has turned the U.S. into one grand unnatural experiment.
Today, we are all unwitting subjects in the largest set of drug trials ever. Without our knowledge or consent, we are testing thousands of suspected toxic chemicals and compounds, as well as new substances whose safety is largely unproven and whose effects on human beings are all but unknown. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) itself has begun monitoring our bodies for 151 potentially dangerous chemicals, detailing the variety of pollutants we store in our bones, muscle, blood and fat. None of the companies introducing these new chemicals has even bothered to tell us we’re part of their experiment. None of them has asked us to sign consent forms or explained that they have little idea what the long-term side effects of the chemicals they’ve put in our environment—and so our bodies—could be. Nor do they have any clue as to what the synergistic effects of combining so many novel chemicals inside a human body in unknown quantities might produce.
Read more here: http://ecowatch.com/2013/you-are-a-guinea-pig/
John Loeffler – Fountain City, Wisconsin
Scientists in Denmark say they’re close to a “promising” breakthrough to cure human immunodeficiency virus, HIV.
Researchers at the Aarhus University Hospital are conducting clinical trials on humans using a “novel strategy” proven effective in laboratory tests. The news came just days after the U.S. government announced failure in a large study to develop a possible HIV vaccine.
The Danish study uses a therapy that flushes the virus from so-called reservoirs it forms within DNA cells, whereupon the body’s immune system — with a little help from a vaccine — can hunt and destroy. Though the therapy appeared effective when using human skin cells in the lab, efficacy in the human body remains unproven, according to Dr. Ole Sogaard, a senior researcher in the department of infectious disease.
“The challenge will be getting the patients’ immune system to recognize the virus and destroy it. This depends on the strength and sensitivity of individual immune systems,” Dr. Sogaard told the media.