Science in Society Archive

I-SIS News #11/12 - October 2001

The only radical science magazine on Earth

I-SIS NEWS 11/12 cover

Predator, by Koumy, Art from Togo, 2001, Acrylic and Ink on Paper 127 x 91 cm. Courtesy of the October Gallery.


From the Editor
GM & bio-warfare
Heart Repair with Bone Marrow Cells
GM & Biological Weapons
Europe's New Rules could Sink All GMOs
Pro-GM Royal Society Fellow Named in Libel Case
Foot & Mouth, GM Vaccines & Bio-war Exercise
Common Gene Therapy Vector Causes Cancer
Common Plant Vector Transfers Genes to Human Cells
Biomed Journals Strike out for Independence
Independent Scientists an Endangered Species
Cloning and ES Cells Both Biting the Dust
Mouse Virus in Human ES Cells?
GM AIDs Virus More Deadly
Beware Corporate Takeover of Organics
Corporate Science Kills
GM & Corporate Serfdom Official
Hold onto Midwife! Here Comes the Doctor
Who Owns Scientific Knowledge?
Organics Enter the Science War
AIDS Vaccines Trials Dangerous
Terminator Patents Decoded
Special Essay
Science & Ethics in a New Key
Bush whacked by embryonic cell patents
GM insulin makers fight over royalties
TRIPs-plus, imperialism strikes again
Canadian farmers union balk at patents
Public subsidy of pharma corporations
BMA calls for debate on life patents
Former IRRI boss attack biopiracy
Victory for Indian farmers
Basmati biopiracy upheld by US
Amla tree - more theft in India
Brazil sold sugar cane genome
Breast cancer gene patent challenged
Research deal divide university
Biopirates eying Borneo's anti-HIV Bintangor
Venter & US terrorist attacks?
Science Bytes
Embryonic Stem Cells and Cancer
Bone Marrow Cells Mend Heart Without Transplant
Vaccine Turns Harmless Virus into Lethal Pathogen
Book Briefs
Quantum Computer? Is It Alive?
Genetic Risk Assessment without Genes
Economic & Cultural Exclusion in a Fragile Earth

From the Editor

GM & bio-warfare

The US and UK governments and the World Health Organization have been sounding alarm over chemical and biological warfare in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. A month later, cases of anthrax emerged under suspicious circumstances in the US, and the first identified anthrax strain appeared to be genetically modified. Earlier reports have linked the UK foot and mouth disease outbreak to experimental GM vaccines and simulated bio-warfare emergency exercises. GM greatly increases the potential both for bio-weapons and for unintended accidents.

GM may be worse than biological weapons, on account of the ease with which deadly pathogens can be created even in apparently innocent experiments, or humanitarian applications, such as making vaccines against AIDS and other infectious diseases. Many AIDs vaccines undergoing clinical trials all over the world are hazardous, and could act as slow bio-warfare agents.

We are calling for international control of both GM and bio-warfare. Scientists, please sign on by e-mailing us.

The modern snake oil peddlers

"Cancer study may lead to obesity cure", so goes a recent headline. "Scientists have identified the molecule responsible for weight loss in cancer patients and believe it can be developed into a slimming pill." I couldn't help adding mentally, " and it's good for man or beast, taken internally or externally".

Obesity, we are told, is the new disease epidemic. It's not a disease maybe, but it's associated with heart disease, high blood pressure and strokes. And, according to the 1998 Scottish Health Survey, 62% of men and 54% of women are overweight or obese. Even 10% of children in the UK are obese. Obesity-cure is obviously the big business, far bigger than cancer, when you lump all so-called obese in the same category, so they can be sold the same 'cure'.

As an after-thought, the scientists say the discovery could also help treat cancer when weight-loss becomes life threatening. I am surprised they don't suggest cancer as a cure for obesity.

Too many scientists are becoming modern peddlers of snake oil under the insidious influence of the corporate culture. More seriously, corporate scientists are endangering lives peddling fraudulent cures while profiting from stock market hype. British physicians have recently proposed a national panel to handle investigations of misconduct in biomedical research.

Striking out for independence

Meanwhile, the genuine articles - independent science and scientists - are in danger of going extinct. Things are so desperate that the top biomedical journals have ganged up to insist on scientific independence, almost as a counsel of despair, because no other institutions will do so. Too many of our public institutions and universities have been commercialised and compromised. And rather than protect the endangered species, and foster open debate on matters ranging from declining academic standards to the safety of GM foods and medicines, they are actively persecuting independent scientists and hounding them out of existence.

Along with the need to recapture public funding for independent science, we must refuse to let scientific knowledge fall into private ownership. Elsevier publisher is usurping the labours and creativity of generations of scientists by hoarding their papers on its commercial database. This should be resisted by a general boycott. Scientists should stop publishing with Elsevier or in any Elsevier journal.

GM vs organics

There have been a spate of attacks on organic agriculture, not just from the proponents of GM, but from prominent scientists such as Sir John Krebs, Head of the UK Food Standards Agency, supposed to be impartial on such matters. There are even articles denigrating organic agriculture in the pages of the top science journals, based on little more than opinion. Meanwhile, the corporate bosses are engineering a takeover behind the scenes by trying to undermine organic standards.

The good news is that Europe's new Directive on release of GMOs to the environment has finally shaped up sufficiently to sink all GMOs if properly implemented. A sure sign of trouble for the GM industry is when Sir John Krebs attacked the new rules as 'unworkable', parroting the US authorities and the biotech industry. Sir John should know that he is aligning with biotech giants such as Monsanto, a company showing all the signs of imposing corporate serfdom on farmers all over the world. And terminator technologies are definitely on the way.

Bone marrow cells, not embryonic stem cells

Also on the good news front is how the patient's own adult bone marrow cells can mend damaged hearts, in contrast to embryonic stem cells and 'therapeutic' human cloning both biting the dust due to genetic instability and other problems. Human cloning is the logical conclusion to the corporate takeover of reproduction and the medicalisation of childbirth, and one way for women the world over to regain control is to "hold onto midwife".

Is reality quantum?

Finally, does quantum theory make a difference to science and ethics? Can a quantum computer simulate reality, and more to the point, simulate human beings so perfectly that it is alive? And how can we prevent an evil quantum computer from taking over the world? Read on.

Article first published October 2001