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Science Communication & Ethics

Make Your Lab Life Easier with LabLife.org

You know you’ve been there. That one super productive post-doc who breezed into and out of your lab in two years is now gone, and you realize you need one of the constructs she made. You know there’s a tube full of the plasmid you need,somewhere. By the time you’ve looked through three freezers and…

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How Science Is Changing What We Eat

From about the time our ancestors traded the nomadic lifestyle for more urban settings, agriculture has been important. It’s no coincidence either — selective breeding and domestication of crops made civilization possible. And in an era when the capacity for cultivating the primary grain and vegetable crops of the world is being stretched to its…

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Against Animal Rights Terrorism

In research relating to molecular biology, it is common for animal models of disease to be used, especially in projects directed towards making biomedical discoveries and breakthroughs. So I find it very important to occasionally read about and blog against animal rights’ terrorists.

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Terrorism: The Animal Research War

After some of the blog posts that I’ve written on animal rights’ extremists and violence against animal researchers, there’s now a review of a most appropriate book on the topic available in Science – Scientists Under Siege. Suppose you are a scientist and a finalist for the position of vice president for research at the…

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Debunking the ‘GE Crops are Bad’ Myth

Pamela Ronald has an article up for anyone interested in the pro’s and con’s of genetically engineered or genetically modified crops. In 10 Things About GE Crops to Scratch from your Worry List, there are brief but succinct explanations of why common arguments against GE crops are without merit.

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Animal Rights Terrorism, Redux

Last Thursday’s post on the animal rights firebombing in Santa Cruz earned me a couple outraged comments, so I suppose I did something right. I’m not too concerned with what they think, but they’re comments reflect what I was saying.

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Post-Modernism versus Science

The methods of science aren’t foolproof, but they are indefinitely perfectible. Just as important: there is a tradition of criticism that enforces improvement whenever and wherever flaws are discovered.

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Evolution: 24 Myths and Misconceptions At New Scientist

Well, I don’t have time to write a proper article today, so for your reading pleasure I’d like to point you to a great article posted yesterday on the New Scientist website by Michael Le Page. It covers some misconceptions commonly held by the general public about evolution, and dispells some of the myths that…

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Church Scaremongering on Stem Cells

Injecting human DNA into a non-human egg is a “monstrous” undertaking, of “Frankenstein” proportions, according to the Catholic church. Next they’ll be telling us that The Earth is flat. These comments, delivered in an Easter sermon by a high-ranking Cardinal, are part of the Catholic church’s recent campaign against The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill,…

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On Animal Rights Activism

Creationism isn’t the only form of pseudoscience. One form that specifically targets biomedical, and especially pre-clinical, research is that of animal rights activism. Often resorting to terrorism, they are not above arson, home invasion, and vandalism. Groups such as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Animal Liberation Brigade (ALB) in Southern California and their…

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Defending A Giant

The problem with being the big kid in the playground is that there will always want to be someone who wants to bring you down. And in the playground of stem cells and cloning, few come bigger than Professor Sir Ian Wilmut. In recent years, Prof. Wilmut has been hounded through the courts and in…

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How Should We Customize Life?

The big biotech news of the week has been the successful construction of an artificial bacterial genome by J. Craig Venter et al., chemically assembled from scratch. While the genome is little more than a watermarked version of the wild bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium, it is now technologically feasible to construct custom genomes for bacteria of…

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Deserving of More Media Attention

It’s no secret that science journalism is, with a few notable exceptions, very lackluster in general. It seems to a lot of biologists whom I speak to that cell and molecular biology, genetics, and related fields, are especially underrepresented in the press. Yesterday, Alex vented a bit on this, reflecting on the capacity for wonder…

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Who Else Thinks Biology Teaching Methods are Wrong?

I shudder to think of the way I was taught about metabolic pathways as an undergrad. Lists of mysterious names connected by arrows – all to be memorized, with little reference to how the processes actually worked on a chemical basis. Even worse – and perhaps embarrassingly for me – I was almost at the…

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What’s with Europe’s Opposition to GMOs?

Nature sends word that there’s a big showdown in Europe looming that could affect the long-term prospects for the cultivation of genetically modified crops on the continent. Specifically, environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said “that he plans to reject applications from Syngenta and Pioneer Hi-Bred International for approval to grow two transgenic strains of maize (corn),…

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