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Letting Gene Drives Loose Outside Labs is Too Risky, says Scientist Who Promoted Idea – December 21, 2017

But other advocates of controversial genetic engineering technology are moving ahead with plans to conduct field trials in a few years

A large cache of emails released this month show that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is stepping up its efforts to promote the deployment of a controversial new genetic engineering tool known as “gene drive” to help eradicate malaria in Africa. However, some of the scientists who had initially proposed using the technology for public health and conservation purposes are having serious second thoughts about deploying it outside of labs.

photo of U.S. Army medical researchers taking part in World Malaria Day 2010, Kisumu, Kenya April 25, 2010Photo by Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Africa Public Affairs / FlickrA baby receives a trial malaria… more

by: Paul Koberstein

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World’s Largest Protected Marine Zone Threatened By Trump Order – May 18, 2017

Papahānaumokuākea Marine Monument is the largest fully protected marine zone in the world

When Donald Trump called for a review of some of America’s most spectacular land and seascapes last month, he clearly intended to toss out their protected status and tap them for their oil, gas, and minerals.

The president ordered the Department of Interior to review as many as 27 large national monuments created over the past two decades under the Antiquities Act by presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. Trump’s action could open up almost 1.2 million square miles of land and sea for development.

Papahānaumokuākea Marine National MonumentPhoto by kris krüg The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is the… more

by: Paul Koberstein

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Pruitt’s Rejection of Chlorpyrifos Ban Seems Based on Alternative Facts – April 5, 2017

EPA chief fails to explain what data prompted his decision to allow continued use of the toxic pesticide, environmental groups file suit

The US Environmental Protection Agency under President Trump may have stepped into the brave new world of alternative facts.

Last November, after several years of study, the EPA had announced that the insecticide chlorpyrifos poses an unacceptable risk to humans, especially children, when its residue is found in fruits, vegetables, and drinking water.

photo of California farmPhoto by Malcolm Carlaw The EPA has reversed its decision to ban chlorpyrifos, the most heavily used insecticide in the US, despite evidence that it is dangerous to human health.

The finding cited a 2014 Columbia University study and other research showing that young… more

by: Paul Koberstein

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When it Comes to GMOs, the Devil is in the Details – July 21, 2016

Unresolved safety questions about gene-editing technologies underscore need for caution

While expressing support for the watered-down GMO labeling bill, which was passed by Congress last week and is now awaiting President Obama’s signature, White House spokeswoman Katie Hill told Bloomberg News: "While there is broad consensus that foods from genetically engineered crops are safe, (emphasis added) we appreciate the bipartisan effort to address consumers' interest in knowing more about their food…."

Making these kinds of broad statements about all genetically modified foods being “safe” seem to be a common quirk among even among science journalists who write about  GMOs. There is a tendency to describe genetically engineered crops as though they are just one thing. True, GMOs have many traits in… more

by: Paul Koberstein

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EPA Mulls Ban on Nation’s Most Heavily Used Insecticide – January 21, 2016

Numerous studies have shown that Chlorpyrifos causes serious harm to children and farmworkers

Scott Krogstad grows soybeans and sugar beets in the heart of the Red River Valley near Grand Forks, North Dakota. Like most sugar beet farmers in the Midwest, he wages a difficult war with the unpredictable infestations of the sugar beet root maggot. The maggot, the larva of a small two-winged fly, can completely sever the roots from a beet with its hooked mouth.

Photo of Farm Workers in CaliforniaPhoto by Dan Long Farm workers cut and pack celery in Salinas Valley, California. Many farmers view the insecticide chlorpyrifos as indespensable in their battles with bugs.

Meanwhile, a thousand miles away in fruit orchards… more

by: Paul Koberstein

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