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Archive for January 2013

Science Policy Around the Web – January 24, 2013

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photo credit: patries71 via photopin cc

photo credit: patries71 via photopin cc

By: Jennifer Plank

Our weekly linkpost, bringing you interesting and informative links on science policy issues buzzing about the internet.

Agency Moves to Retire Most Research Chimps – An NIH council unanimously recommended that most of the 451 chimpanzees used for biomedical research should be retired and moved to sanctuaries.  The recommendations will be open for public commentary for 60 days. Following this time period, the NIH director Francis Collins will decide whether to implement the recommendations. The council recommends that a small colony of approximately 50 chimps be maintained for future research. (James Gorman)

Supreme Court rejects challenge to Obama stem cell policy – The US Supreme Court has refused to hear a case challenging the president’s policy to expand government funded stem cell research. The case began in 2010 when a federal judge required the NIH to halt funding of human embryonic stem cell research. Last year, an appeals court overturned the ruling. The plaintiffs in lawsuit, Dr. James Sherley and Dr. Theresa Deisher, then appealed to the Supreme Court in fall 2012. The Supreme Court justices denied the case without comment. (David G. Savage)

Work results on lethal flu strains – A year ago, scientists agreed to halt research producing deadly strains of the H1N5 avian flu virus. The conflict began over whether it was safe to publish 2 papers in which several mutations were introduced in the H1N5 genome to allow the virus to spread among ferrets. In a letter published in Nature, the 40 scientists involved in the research claimed the moratorium has served its purpose and allowed the proper authorities to review the conditions under which the research will be conducted. (Declan Butler)

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Written by sciencepolicyforall

January 24, 2013 at 11:57 am

Communication Satellites: profitable commercial technology or national security concern?

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By: Katherine Bricceno

Amid all the news about the fiscal cliff last week, you may have missed that President Obama signed the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act1.  In addition to setting the Department of Defense’s budget and a pay raise for military personnel, the legislation allows American companies to sell communication satellites as technology while maintaining export restrictions on nations like China and North Korea2. Since 1999, communication satellites had been treated as munitions and their export was restricted due to concerns of national security.

The legislation enacting these restrictions was passed during the Justice Department’s investigation of two American aerospace companies, Hughes and Loral, for illegal transfer of rocket technology to China3. The companies were accused of sharing information regarding a failed Chinese rocket launch. Three classified studies found national security was harmed by the release of this information, which the authors believed could improve the accuracy and reliability of future ballistic missiles produced by China. In a 2002 civil settlement, Loral paid fines to the State Department, ending the Justice Department’s investigation.

Satellite communications have long been at the intersection of military, government and commercial research interests beginning with the 1957 launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union.  In 1960 AT&T requested permission from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch a satellite communications system4.  At the time, the FCC did not have a mechanism to process such a request, but quickly established policy governing such technology.  By 1964, NASA had granted contracts for communication satellites to 3 companies and a half dozen satellites were in orbit. The technology allowed Americans to watch live coverage of portions of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics5Read the rest of this entry »

Written by sciencepolicyforall

January 8, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Posted in Essays

Science Policy Around the Web – January 3, 2013

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photo credit: USFWS Pacific via photopin cc

photo credit: USFWS Pacific via photopin cc

By: Jennifer Plank

Our weekly linkpost, bringing you interesting and informative links on science policy issues buzzing about the internet.

Frankenfish on the menu? FDA gives final approval – AquaAdvantage salmon, a genetically modified Atlantic salmon also dubbed “Frankenfish”, has been approved by the FDA.  The AquaAdvantage salmon contain genes from Chinook salmon and an eel-like species called an ocean pout. The addition of these specific genes allows the fish to grow more rapidly. Atlantic salmon normally take 3 years to be large enough for consumption while the AquaAdvantage salmon will be large enough within 18 months. The approval from the FDA will be followed by a 60 day period of public commentary regarding AquaAdvantage salmon. After that time, the AquaAdvantage salmon can be approved for human consumption. (Marc Lallanilla)

BGI clears hurdle in buyout of Complete Genomics – BGI (formerly called the Beijing Genomics Institute) has been an active player in genome wide sequencing including playing an instrumental role in the Human Genome Project. However, BGI has been dependent on sequencing instruments from companies such as Illumina. Recently, BGI has gained approval from the United States to buy the California-based company, Complete Genomics, who has developed their own complete sequencing platform. With the acquisition of Complete Genomics, BGI will be able to sequence individual genomes without being dependent on other companies. (Ryan McBride)

Child support claim rankles sperm donor to lesbian couple – In 2009, William Marotta donated sperm to a lesbian couple wishing to have a child. At the time, the couple and Marotta signed a document stating that he would not be the father of the child nor would he be financially responsible for the child. Since then, the couple has broken up and fallen on hard financial times. One mother of the child applied for Medicare to cover the child’s medical expenses and the state of Kansas deemed the father financially responsible for the expenses. The state of Kansas is suing Marotta for child support and approximately $6000 for the medical care of the child. A hearing about the case will be held on January 8, and at that time, Marotta will ask for the case to be dismissed. (Kevin Murphy)

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Written by sciencepolicyforall

January 3, 2013 at 5:05 pm