Archive | August, 2013

Rappler news article: Health chief flip-flops on support for stem cell treatment

19 Aug
This relates to our topic on genetic engineering and the ethical issues for the use of stem cells for medical purposes. This news article shows how there is a debate over stem cell treatment in the country.
Link to the news article from rappler:


CLARIFICATION. Health Secretary Enrique Ona writes to a newspaper that his published speech is not the final word on stem cell therapy regulation. File photo by Rappler/Naoki MenguaCLARIFICATION. Health Secretary Enrique Ona writes to a newspaper that his published speech is not the final word on stem cell therapy regulation. File photo by Rappler/Naoki Mengua MANILA, Philippines – Health Secretary Enrique Ona has clarified that his speech published in ThePhilippine Star as a full-page advertisement should not be misconstrued as the end-all, be-all pronouncement on the issue of stem cell therapy regulation. The controversial speech categorized stem cell therapy as part of “innovative therapy,” whereas clinical trials or thorough drug testing locally may be evaded in the meantime for the sake of innovation. It was delivered by Ona on August 12, during the 1st mid-year convention of the Philippine Society for Stem Cell Medicine (PSSCM). The full-page ad appeared on August 14. READ: Stem cell debate: innovation or safety? The published copy of Ona’s speech was labeled with the words “Stem Cell: The Final Word.” Ona, however, wanted to dispel “any confusion” caused by the advertisement’s label. “In the keynote message, there was no mention or any insinuation that the said pronouncement was the ‘Final Word on Stem Cell’,” the health chief wrote the newspaper. Not final NOT THE FINAL WORD. Health Secretary Enrique Ona clarifies that his published speech is not the final word on the issue of stem cell therapy regulation.NOT THE FINAL WORD. Health Secretary Enrique Ona clarifies that his published speech is not the final word on the issue of stem cell therapy regulation. Ona added that the agency is willing to consider various stances on the controversial therapy. “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Department of Health is willing to listen to stakeholders to assess their positions on the issue of stem cell therapy,” he explained. Criticized Earlier, the secretary was criticized for the content of his speech and for his pronouncement that has allowed in the meantime the conduct of the treatment even without the FDA’s approval of stem cell products. On Thursday, August 15, Rep Paulino Salvador “Doy” Leachon of Oriental Mindoro’s 1st district called for Ona’s resignation unless the Cabinet official changes his stand. READ: Leachon asks Ona to resign over stem cell issue When Rappler sought Ona for a comment on the congressman’s call, the health secretary’s office referred us to the PSSCM speech that Ona now says is not final. Leachon also called for a congressional probe into the issue. The lawmaker’s brother, a Department of Health (DOH) consultant, resigned from his post in the agency at the height of the controversy as a sign of dissent to Ona’s stand of allowing stem cell treatment for unproven therapeutic purposes. 'NOT FIT AS DOH CHIEF.' Rep Paulino 'Doy' Leachon previously called for Enrique Ona's resignation over the DOH chief's pronouncement in his PSSCM speech allowing stem cell therapy without clinical trials for the sake of innovation. Photo by Rappler/Jom Tolentino‘NOT FIT AS DOH CHIEF.’ Rep Paulino ‘Doy’ Leachon previously called for Enrique Ona’s resignation over the DOH chief’s pronouncement in his PSSCM speech allowing stem cell therapy without clinical trials for the sake of innovation. Photo by Rappler/Jom Tolentino Who paid for the ad? The full-page advertisement would have cost the DOH some P300,000. Dr Leo Olarte, Philippine Medical Association president and a prominent member of the PSSCM, said in a phone interview that he did not know who sponsored the publication of the speech. Dr Oscar Tinio, current spokesperson of the PSSCM, denied allegations that their group paid for the advertisement. PSSCM is a network of stem cell transplant practitioners based in the Philippines. Rappler tried to get in touch with the advertising department of The Philippine Star to clarify who paid for the advertisement but has received no reply as of posting time. The debate The Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) maintains its stand, calling for a moratorium on all stem cell treatments until the FDA reviews all stem cell and stem cell-based products. The PCP is among the 21 medical and surgical societies which called for stricter regulations on the conduct of stem cell therapy in the country. It also called for the suspension of stem cell transplant doctors who offer the treatment for unproven indications. READ: ‘Suspend deceptive stem cell transplant doctors’ In the closing of the health secretary’s speech, he said he looked forward to more discussion and “a happy resolution” of issues surrounding stem cell therapy. “The challenge, I believe among us, seemingly competing forces, is to sit down and craft a path of consensus, taking in consideration the most fundamental tenet of why our profession exists: to save life, to alleviate pain, to do no harm,” the DOH chief said. –

CNN article about meat made from a cow’s stem cell

7 Aug

This article relates to our unit on genetic engineering and the greenhouse effect. The use of meat produced from their stem cells will be better for the environment since growing cows at our current rate has negative consequences to the environment. 


Article Link:


Article from CNN:

It cost more than $380,000 to develop — and doesn’t come with French fries on the side.

But the world’s first test-tube burger — grown in a laboratory from a cow’s stem cells — will be served in London next week.

Read more: Tiny hooks revolutionize concrete

The burger, made from 20,000 strips of cultured meat mixed together with lab-grown animal fat, took nine weeks to grow and cost £250,000 ($384,000) to develop. The scientist behind the project hopes that laboratory-grown meat could provide a solution to the problem of increasing global demand for meat and protein.

Mark Post, from the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, spent two years researching the initiative. “There’s no doubt it would be revolutionary in the way we produce staple food,” he said.

Read more: British inventors claim world’s first flying bicycle

It takes eight to nine weeks to produce just one stem cell burger. “It depends how much resources are put into the production of cultured meat. It will always take this long for cells to multiply, but we could produce a million burgers in this time if enough resources were being spent on the production,” he said.

According to the World Health Organization, demand for meat is going to double during the next 40 years but current production methods are not sustainable. Post said the production of synthetic meat would also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and help address animal welfare problems.

Read more: A teen builds one-man submarine for $2,000

Scientists believe artificial meat could be sold in supermarkets within five to 10 years. “The emphasis is on could,” Post cautioned. “Five years might be too early and 10 years sounds more realistic, if we spend a lot of resources on pushing the production of cultured meat forward.”

His research into synthetic meat has been funded by the Dutch government, as well as an anonymous donation of €300,000 ($396,000). The burger will be cooked and eaten in London next week at a yet undisclosed location in front of an audience.

“The whole presentation next week will be a proof of concept,” Post said. Of course we’re not there yet to make it an efficient and cheap product. But I want to show that it can be done so that people see: “Yes you can eat it, yes, it tastes good.'”

CNBC news article: New records broken for loss of sea ice and greenhouse gases in 2012

7 Aug

CNBC article link:

The world lost record amounts of Arctic sea ice in 2012 and spewed out all-time high levels of greenhouse gases from fossil fuel burning, international climate scientists said Tuesday.

Overall, 2012 was among the top 10 on record for global land and surface temperature, said the State of the Climate report issued annually by researchers in Britain and the United States.

“Globally-averaged, 2012 ranked as the eighth or ninth warmest year since records began in the mid-to-late 1800s, according to four independent analyses,” said the report.

(Read More: China Pushes for Arctic Foothold, from a Thousand Miles Away)

“The year was 0.14 degrees Celsius – 0.17 degrees Celsius above the 1981-2010 average, depending on the dataset considered.”

When it came to Arctic sea ice, a new record low was observed in September for sea ice and another all-time low for snow cover was observed in the Northern Hemisphere, it said.

More from the Global Post:

Methane gas from thawing Arctic permafrost a ‘threat’ to global economy
Arctic melting forces researchers on floating station to evacuate
Arctic Ocean ‘acidifying rapidly,’ scientists warn

Meanwhile, permafrost temperatures reached record high values in northern Alaska and 97 percent of the Greenland ice sheet showed some form of melt, four times greater than the average melt for this time of year.

The amount of carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels also hit new highs, after a slight decline in recent years that followed the global financial crisis.

(Read More: What global warming means for air conditioning)

“In spring 2012, for the first time, the atmospheric CO2 concentration exceeded 400 parts per million at seven of the 13 Arctic observation sites,” it said.

Droughts and unusual rains struck different parts of the globe last year, with “the worst drought in at least the past three decades for northeastern Brazil,” the report said.

(Read More: Tamminen: Global Warming Solutions That Work and Save Money)

“The Caribbean observed a very wet dry season and it was the Sahel’s wettest rainy season in 50 years.”

On a positive note, the climate in Antarctica remained “relatively stable overall” and warm air led to the second smallest ozone hole in the past two decades, it said.