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Links With Your Coffee - Wednesday



  • I'm a big fan of Dropbox you can get 2GB free. It is a great way to sync a file you change often between your laptop and desktop computers. It is also good as an online backup of critical files. If you sign up through this link I get a bit of extra space.

  • Bringing Better Scientific Guidance to Congress by Union of Concerned Scientists.
    For 23 years, the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) provided trustworthy, non-partisan science and technology advice to Congress on issues from Alzheimer's disease to acid rain. The OTA was the victim of budget cuts in 1995, a move that saved the government a little more than $20 million annually. Since then, the federal government has spent billions on new technologies that have not worked as promised, ranging from real and virtual fences on the U.S.-Mexico border to flawed baggage screening equipment.

  • Cern LHC sees high-energy success
    Scientists working on the European machine have smashed beams of protons together at energies that are 3.5 times higher than previously achieved. . .

    "Major discoveries will happen only when we are able to collect billions of events and identify among them the very rare events that could present a new state of matter or new particles," said Guido Tonelli, a spokesman for the CMS detector at the LHC.

    "This is not going to happen tomorrow. It will require months and years of patient work," he told BBC News.

  • After Patent on Genes Is Invalidated, Taking Stock
    Many biotechnology stocks fell on Tuesday as investors struggled to understand the impact of a ruling that threw out parts of two gene patents and called into question thousands more.

    Great news if it holds up.



Well I hate to admit it, but guess where I read the LHC news hours before I read it anywhere else?

The name of this restaurant makes me wonder where it's located. Is the food that good,or are there other activities going on at this cafe??

They shouldn't have had to post this message, though.

It's not a restaurant, it's a goth shop on Euclid Ave. in Atlanta's Little Five Points.

Thanks--goths gotta get some too.

watching the news this morning I heard Shuster say that the collider is recreating the Big bang, which was "when God made earth, 17 Billion years ago."

This is why news people shouldn't ad lib on topics they don't have the facts on.

Shuster's comment that is. I didn't hear it, but I guess we're supposed to be happy that he accepts the big bang theory in some form, but ugh.

Some stink was raised at (where else?) Pharyngula because Michio Kaku used similar language, which was obviously metaphorical, but oblivious and irresponsible nonetheless.

Yeah, If they want to say that "the big bang is when some believe that God created the universe", I guess I can't do more than roll my eyes, but earth is 4 billion years old or whatever, It didn't pop into existance during the big bang. Science reporting should be about more than pretty pictures. Drives me nuts when it isn't.

Oh haha, that was your gripe? I didn't even catch it, I did notice though that 17 billion is about 3.3 billion too old even for the universe let alone the earth.

re: patents on genes

I never could understand how Monsanto/ADM could persuade FDA and USDA that their genetically modified food crop seeds were so "substantially equivalent" to natural crops that no LABEL was required and, at the SAME TIME persuade the Patent courts that they were so unique as to permit patents to be filed for them.

This is hopeful news that perhaps they bio tech companies may not end up owning all Mammalian DNA as well.

Regarding the gene patent case, this passage of the article is interesting:

Although patents are not granted on things found in nature, the DNA being patented had long been considered a chemical that was isolated from, and different from, what was found in nature. But Judge Sweet ruled that the distinguishing feature of DNA is its information content, its conveyance of the genetic code. And in that regard, he wrote, the isolated DNA “is not markedly different from native DNA as it exists in nature.”
The immediate impact will be limited in part because the decision, made in a district court, does not apply to gene patents other than the ones it considered, and its value as precedent for other courts is limited.
Moreover, Myriad said Tuesday that it would appeal, and several lawyers said they expected the ruling to be overturned. Professor Eisenberg said “there isn’t a whole lot of doctrinal support” for considering DNA as information rather than as a chemical.

It is pretty much preposterous to claim that isolated DNA is in its most significant characteristics, different from what is found in nature. If that were true, it would be worth patenting! And I can't imagine what it means to say that " 'there isn’t a whole lot of doctrinal support' for considering DNA as information".

That should be ...wouldn't be worth...

I hope that this bit with Monsanto and others turns against them. They patent their seed line, and then when seeds blow onto an independent farmer's property, Monsanto/ADM and whoever else runs corporate farms will take samples from the independent hard-working family's crops, and sue them for infringing upon their gloriously patented product.

Of course most farmers cannot even begin to afford to go to court with this, so they either sign up with Monsanto and their ilk or go under. According to Food, Inc. the seed saving business in Indiana has taken a huge dive - down to about 1 or 2 in the state. I'm glad that in Iowa there are enough independent farms that this type of legal action seems to be at a minimum, or perhaps it just goes unreported.

As for drug companies that may catch some fallout, we'll have to see. On the one hand, the same laws of nature don't apply to pharmaceutical development; on the other, lots of people get cancer.

Monsanto's case for patenting the seed line is a strong one - that they can force farmers to abandon saving their seed is what is ridiculous. BTW, Monsanto's patent is for making soybean's that can resist their own herbicide - i.e., it's 'Roundup ready'. That patent will expire in 2014. Naturally, they're working on a 'Roundup ready - new and improved version 2'.

ick, and I love my organic growers.

I know it's cool to hate Monsanto, but from an environmental perspective, Roundup has an excellent track record in my opinion. Roundup Ready crops have allowed farmers to cut way back on many of the herbicides that linger in the soil, and runoff water like atrazine, metribuzin, and alachlor.

Also, I don't think the 'no-till' methods that have become the norm in the mid-west would have ever been possible without glyphosate. No-till has made soil conservation easy and profitable for farmers, and in my opinion has been a real boon to the environment.

I've used Roundup in my gardens and yard for years and years, and am certain it is as close as we will ever get to 'organic' commercial farming.

I'm glad to know that Roundup is better than most herbicides. It takes lots of patience and crafty farming to go whole-hog organic. I do believe my growers till; I've been out to one farm for a garlic planting party. Crop rotation and other means of avoiding the mono-crop culture help keep the soil healthy.

If you read above (the 1st reply to Tim) why I don't care for Monsanto, it has nothing to do with me wanting to be cool or in with the hip enviro crowd; it has to do with the effect chasing down seed patents has had on independent farmers.

Still, thanks for the info on Roundup products. I'm really trying to avoid chemicals in my backyard, but there may come a time when the only way yo eradicate creeping charlie is to spray.

Yeah, Creeping Charlie in the lawn is a tough one. The best way I've found (besides trimec) is fertilizing often, and mowing high (3 inches). A well fed fescue will eventually crowd out the ivy. It might take a couple years, but it should work.

Another option is over seeding with dutch white clover in the spring. It won't rid you of the ivy entirely, but the clover can compete well with ivy in a low nitrogen soil. Try to get the inoculated clover seed if you can - it will spread much faster.

I wasn't criticising Roundup (and maybe you didn't think I was, it isn't clear). Furhtermore, I think genetically engineering soybeans that can tolerate Roundup is downright ingenious. (Most, not all, worrying about genetically engineered crops is hysteria.) The only problem I have with Monsanto is the lengths they go to enforce the patent - as far as I'm concerned, Monsanto's seeds blow into fileds not planted with Monsanto's seeds - that's too bad for Monsanto.

Come on Tim, I know it feels good to be on the farmer's side on this, but corn and soybeans don't really blow around in the wind much during seed drilling.

I wasn't under the impression that the farmers being accused by Monsanto claimed that seed blew into their fields during planting.

Don't mean to threadjack but cannot let slip by the misunderstanding of GMO agriculture.

Make no mistake. Monsanto is not your friend, no, nor your farmer's friend. Not friend to those hard working families who pick your food, nor to your sweet children who eat it.

GMO's promise of increased yeilds has proved now empty.

Further, Genetically engineered (GE) corn, soybeans and cotton have INCREASED use of weed-killing herbicides (Round-up) by 383 million pounds in the U.S. from 1996 to 2008, with 46 percent of the total increase occurring in 2007 and 2008.

Monsanto's assurances of no likelihood of Glyphosate resistant superweeds developing has proved a lie as Farmers associations report 103 biotypes of weeds within 63 weed species with herbicide resistance. Super pigweed now spreads across the Southeastern US and Texas.

Glyphosate is absorbed by the foliage and translocated rapidly throughout the plant. Residues have been found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. They can be detected long after glyphosate treatments have been made. Lettuce, carrots and barley planted a year after glyphosate treatment contained residue at harvest.

It's not just the Glyphosate salts in Roundup but also the surfactants that are so toxic - causing Endocrine disruption at sub-agricultural doses. It causes disturbance in the reproductive development during puberty, and death of human embryonic cells in vitro, even at low concentrations.

But enough of that. Here's the thing.

When one burns crop residue then sprays those acres and acres of open ground with poison, the soil dies. When you plant the same monocrop year after year, the plant uses up any micronutirents that could help it survive as insects or fungus specially tuned to that crop flock in to take advantage. Monsanto's 'solution' is more and more deadly poisons. We've been here before. "Silent Spring" anyone?

One saves the soil not by 'no till then poison' but by incorporating crop residue, compost and mulch, by maintaining hedge rows, and rotating crops and inter-planting different species with different strengths and nutrient needs.

As soil improves, weeds become less competitive. By mulching not only are weeds suffocated, but precious water is retained, plant roots remain cool.

When I drive down the Central Valley and see those vast tracts of dead earth, my heart bleeds.

Monsanto's suggestion that their products are safe, nay even good for the environment is so blatantly false it brings vision of shock and awe.

Don't you believe it.

p.s., the problem for neighbor farmers with GMO roundup ready corn and soy, is not that the drill will drift when the farmer plants, but that the pollen will drift across the property boundary. Corn pollen will drift a very long way. Organic Farms near commercial operations have a big problem allocating enough of their arable land to drift buffers. It's not fair and it's not a good thing. Something like 2/3 of America's corn and soy crops are already contaminated.

ok, back to regularly scheduled programing

Was that an April Fools joke?


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