Sunday, November 10, 2013

DARPA's Flu Fighters Ramp Up Veggie-Based Vaccines


By Robert Beckhusen
 07.26.12 5:31 PM

The military wants to boost vaccine production for the deadly flu, and do so with tobacco plants like these, pictured at a Medicago greenhouse in North Carolina in May 2012. Photo: Darpa In the event of a global and highly lethal flu pandemic, we’ll need to churn out millions of vaccines as soon as humanly possible. Not easy to do considering a true vaccine can’t be developed until the pandemic has already arrived. So it’s not surprising the military wants better vaccines that can be produced at blazing speed. Preferably ones it can grow. The trick is to make lots of flu vaccines by growing tons of vegetables. That’s under exploration by researchers who hold $21 million worth of funding from the Pentagon’s mad scientists at Darpa — and Darpa has been pursuing veggie-based vaccine research, called Blue Angel, since 2005. This week, Darpa-funded vaccine firm Medicago announced it hit a key goal: producing 10 million doses of a plant-based H1N1 influenza vaccine within a month.

Read more at WIRED

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

President Obama waffles on his campaign promise about GMO's

 Monsanto Protection Act Signed By Obama, 

 GMO Bill “Written By Monsanto” Signed Into Law

 By Global Research News
The Monsanto Protection Act, essentially both written by and benefiting Monsanto Corporation, has been signed into law by United States President Barack Obama. The infamous Monsanto Corporation will benefit greatly and directly from the bill, as it essentially gives companies that deal with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically engineered (GE) seeds immunity to the federal courts, among other things. The bill states that even if future research shows that GMOs or GE seeds cause significant health problems, cancer, etc, anything, that the federal courts no longer have any power to stop their spread, use, or sales. There are of course arguments to be made that not enough research has been done yet to accurately determine the effects that GMOs have on human and animal health (though the research already done should make you stop and think). This bill sidesteps that completely though, and simply states that even if there are problems, that the federal courts can no longer do anything about it. And this bill is now law, thanks to President Obama and the U.S. Congress. Some other interesting things to keep in mind: - The bill was apparently written by freshman Sen. Roy Blunt in collusion with Monsanto, with them helping to craft the exact language of the document. - “The Center for Responsive Politics notes that Sen. Blunt received $64,250 from Monsanto to go towards his campaign committee between 2008 and 2012. The Money Monocle website adds that Blunt has been the largest Republican Party recipient of Monsanto funding as of late.” - Many members of Congress were apparently unaware that the “Monsanto Protection Act” was a part of the spending bill that they were voting on. - Obama had no problem signing it into law (not really a surprise, he’s been rather soft on GMO policy). - The bill will only remain in effect for a limited time, but it’s a bad sign. With the ease that this bill passed, it’ll be interesting to see what future bills look like. As the Daily News asks, “Who’s more powerful, the world’s largest producer of genetically modified crops or the U.S. government?” “On Tuesday, Pres. Obama inked his name to H.R. 933, a continuing resolution spending bill approved in Congress days earlier. Buried 78 pages within the bill exists a provision that grossly protects biotech corporations such as the Missouri-based Monsanto Company from litigation.” “In light of approval from the House and Senate, more than 250,000 people signed a petition asking the president to veto the spending bill over the biotech rider tacked on, an item that has since been widely referred to as the ‘Monsanto Protection Act.’” “But Obama ignored [the petition],” as the IB Times notes, “instead choosing to sign a bill that effectively bars federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of GMO or GE crops and seeds, no matter what health consequences from the consumption of these products may come to light in the future.” GMOs, while they may cause problems for human health, are primarily a problem for other reasons, mostly to do with crop/genetic diversity and overly complex industrial systems. And also the fact that they often don’t even work the way that they are “supposed” to. When taken in context though, GMOs are really just another in a long line of environmentally damaging practices that people have done for short term gain/profit. From the large-scale deforestation of the world’s old-growth forests, to sustenance farming, to modern imported-fertilizer/pesticide/herbicide/fossil-fuel dependent industrial agricultural, the trend has been consistent, GMOs are just another in that line of attempts to temporarily maintain/raise crop yields. Regardless of the type of agriculture or the location, there are limits to how long any land can remain productive, applying imported fertilizers, or utilizing GMOs, only provides, at best, a temporary halt to the land’s transition to non-productive “wasteland”, and to desertification.