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Italy: a GMO-free country?

By | November 21, 2000

The Italian Minister for Agricultural and Forestry Policy has made it clear he intends to ban GMOs of agricultural interest - but will he manage to sway the Italian public?

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HOUSTON "Mosquitoes are flying syringes," declared Frank Cortez-Flores of Loma Linda University (California), and two mosquito-borne diseases have broken past old geographic boundaries to invade the US. The first, West Nile encephalitis, is a newcomer to the western hemisphere and thus has garnered the most headlines. The other, dengue fever, is considered the world's most important vector-borne viral disease affecting people, in terms of both morbidity and mortality. The West Nile virus, native

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Interfering with worms

By | November 20, 2000

Two systematic RNAi screens in worms provide the first large-scale reverse genetic analyses of a multicellular organism.

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Killing me softly with his sperm

By | November 20, 2000

Inducing death in the mother of your future children may not be the wisest way to maximize your contributions to the gene pool. And yet male flies do just that: their sperm (or, more correctly, their seminal fluid) increases the death rate of recipient females. In the November 21 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Civetta and Clark suggest that the polygamous nature of fly society provides an explanation for this puzzling behavior. They find that male flies that induce a greater mo

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Nice and open

By | November 20, 2000

The UK's National Institute for Clinical Excellence has opted to remove confidentiality from its appraisal process as a means of pre-empting information leaks.

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Patent knowledge

By | November 20, 2000

A special report just published in the UK reveals the extent and pace of the gene patent rush.

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Nearly a million children die each year of malaria, but the parasite became resistant to the cheapest drug. Now we know why.

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Skim before you fly

By | November 17, 2000

How does gradual evolutionary change come up with a complex trait such as flying? One possible intermediate state for insects is surface-skimming, in which the insect's weight is borne by water, meaning that the wings must deal only with generating forward motion. A limited analysis suggested, however, that present-day surface skimmers were evolutionary latecomers, and had lost their previous ability to fly. In the November 21 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Thomas et al. analyz

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Europe had ten Adams

By | November 16, 2000

In the 10 November Science Semino et al. use haplotypes from the non-recombining portion of the Y chromosome (NRY) of 1007 individuals to determine that ten lineages can account for 95% of European Y chromosomes (Science 2000, 290:1151-1155). Based on the geographic distribution of the haplotypes, and their age (estimated using the variation of associated microsatellites), Semino et al. identify two major haplotypes as belonging to Paleolithic peoples who migrated from the Iberian peninsula and

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The ESTs from Brazil

By | November 16, 2000

Guesses about the number of genes in the human genome vary wildly and may continue to do so even when the entire genome sequence is available. Computational methods for picking out exons that are scattered amongst vast introns yield both false positives and false negatives. This has prompted a Brazilian sequencing group to generate a quarter of a million open reading frame (ORF) expressed sequence tags (ORESTES), as they report in the November 7 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (P

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