The opening scene of “Unnatural Selection,” a four-part docuseries released recently from Netflix, depicts scientist Jennifer Doudna showing off a tiny sample of a colorless liquid. It contains, she says, an enzyme that allows her to add or remove any piece of DNA from any living organisms. More
by Jonathan Latham, PhD
The standard gene-editing tool, CRISPR-Cas9, frequently produces a type of DNA mutation that ordinary genetic analysis misses, claims new research published in the journal Science Advances. In describing these findings the researchers called such oversights “serious pitfalls” of gene editing (Skryabin et al., 2020). More
by Jonathan Latham, PhD (Please note: this article contains disturbing content)
The case of an animal rights activist who infiltrated an independent German chemical testing laboratory has triggered the discovery of an apparently extensive chemical testing fraud.More
Catch me at:
Title: “The Politics of Pesticides”
at Buffalo St Books
Ithaca, New York.
5pm, March 19th, 2020
A book talk with Mitchel Cohen, Robin Falk and myself.
We will be introduced by Emily Adams
Panel on Gene Editing
With Dag Falk and Lucy Sharratt of CBAN
Organic Connections Conference
Friday Nov 6th, 2020.
Title: “The Meaning of Life”. A workshop.
The 2019 Biodynamic Conference (Lake George, NY) Nov 20-24, 2019
Title: “The EPA: Friend or Foe?”
at: Soil Not Oil September 9-10, 2019
San Francisco, California
September 9th 7-8pm.
Title: “Are Conservatism and Genetic Determinism the Same Thing?”
Oslo, Norway ISHPSSB 2019
Date: July 7-12th, 2019
by Jonathan Latham, PhD
The gene-editing of DNA inside living cells is considered by many to be the preeminent technological breakthrough of the new millennium. Researchers in medicine and agriculture have rapidly adopted it as a technique for discovering cell and organism functions. But its commercial prospects are much more complicated.More
A panel discussion with the people who brought the three new chemical industry documents collections to the UCSF library explored what the documents mean for public health and the perils they faced in making these documents public. Professor Stanton Glantz, who began the library with the first collection of internal tobacco industry documents and explained how the documents have been used to inform litigation, documentaries and public policy decisions. University Librarian and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Information Management Chris Shaffer gave an overview of the Industry Documents Library and introduced the panel. Panelists were Dr. Jonathan Latham, Director of the Bioscience Resource Project, and Gary Ruskin, Co-founder and Co-Director of U.S. Right to Know. The panel was moderated by Dr. Tracey Woodruff, Professor and Director of the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment and Co-Director of the UCSF Environmental Health Initiative, which has supported the development of the Chemical Industry Documents library.
Watch the panel discussion:
Dr. Jonathan Latham, Director of the Bioscience Resource Project talked about the importance of the 20,000-document collection and how it exposes problems with both the internal culture of the EPA and its legal framework that are often fraught with industry influences that prevent precautionary decision-making, even when the science clearly points to danger. The documents that have come to be known as the Poison Papers were collected over a period of 40 years by Carol Van Strum, Diane Hebert, Eric Coppolino, and Peter von Stackelberg, who served as custodians of the documents, gathering, storing, scanning, and distributing them. Their ultimate goal was to make the documents accessible to anybody and everybody who might need them. The Park Foundation, The Bioscience Resource Project, Center for Media and Democracy, and the late Rosalind Peterson helped fund this endeavor.
By Jonathan Latham, PhD and Allison Wilson, PhD
Gene-editing is seen by many as the ultimate in precision breeding. Polled cattle, whose horns have been genetically removed, have been presented as exemplars of this–a socially beneficial use of precise genome engineering. Such hornless cattle were produced in 2016 by Recombinetics, Inc., of St. Paul, Minnesota, a development that was reported in the journal Nature Biotechnology (Carlson et al, 2016).More
by Jonathan Latham, PhD
Imagine you are an undergraduate attending an Ivy League university. You go to a routine department seminar. In the middle of his presentation the professor picks up a container from the lectern. He says it contains a pesticide. As he opens it, a faint cloud of brown powder rises from the tub. It is, says he, “very safe”. Then he digs his finger into the container and tastes some of the contents. He offers it to a man in the front row, who twice refuses it. Walking back to the centre of the room, the professor looks towards you and pushes the container in your direction.
Apparently he wants you to join him in eating pesticide. What should you do?More
By Hans Muilerman and Jonathan Latham, PhD
Current EU regulations forbid human exposure to pesticides that are classified as mutagenic, carcinogenic, reprotoxic (toxic for reproduction), persistent or capable of disrupting endocrine systems. By virtue of these and other protective measures EU regulations are considered the gold standard in public protection.
However, experts who are closely linked to industry (or are part of anti-regulation pressure groups) have taken control of the EU’s new Science Advice Mechanism (SAM). These experts have contributed to a report commissioned to reevaluate the EU’s authorisation of pesticides. The report, called “EU authorisation processes of Plant Protection Products”, and published in late 2018, recommends dramatically weakening the EU regulatory system. Especially notable is the adoption of many ideas previously proposed by the chemical industry. More