The agricultural industry has long been considered an enemy of humanity when it comes to recklessly pumping antibiotics into animals. In further evidence that this practice is fuelling a public health crisis, a new study has found a disconcerting trend at Chinese farms: Flies are spreading the gene that gives bacteria resistance to our strongest antibiotics, and it's showing up in hospitalised humans.
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Gene editing research is moving quickly in China — researchers there have already edited human embryos, after all. But a team of scientists now have their sights set on the food supply. Ladies, gentlemen and so on, meet the first crop of tuberculosis resistant, genetically moo-dified cows.
If you wanted to, say, turn a red pepper yellow, you have a few options. You could directly tinker with with the plant's genetic code, tweaking the genes that control its colour. Or, perhaps, you could just mist the plant with a spray that changes its gene expression without altering its genetics.
On January 1, a set of long-awaited FDA rules went into effect that could mark a major shift in the agency's approach to antibiotics for livestock animals. First, the new US policies place an outright ban on the use of any antibiotics considered "medically important" to help animals gain weight. The rules also require that such drugs only be given to animals under the supervision of a veterinarian, when animals are actually ill.
Last week, Nigerian officials seized over 100 bags of what was claimed to be plastic rice. Lab tests have since shown the product isn't fake, as Gizmodo and other outlets reported. But it is badly contaminated rice that's unsafe for human consumption. The incident is casting light on the sorry state of the economy and food production in Nigeria — along with a government that's anxious to deflect the blame elsewhere.
Agriculture company Monsanto has acquired a non-exclusive global licensing agreement from MIT's Broad Institute and Harvard to use the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing system. The firm will use it to design and grow new seeds and plants, but there are key restrictions on its use to prevent Monsanto from abusing this revolutionary new technology.