Just ignore He Jiankui, don’t feed his ego

(Illustration by Mike McQuade, source Nature)

The Chinese scientist who edited the CRISPR babies was released from prison last spring. He tweets lightheartedly announcing that he has opened a new lab in Beijing. He claims to be dedicated to rare diseases. He is looking for funding that hopefully no one wants to give him. In the rogue experiment that made him famous, he violated so many ethical principles that the only thing one can hope for is that he changes jobs. Is it appropriate for influential newspapers and prestigious institutions to give him a limelight for this attempt to come back on the scene?

Continue reading

What you missed this August

While many of us have been enjoying a bit of holiday rest, CRISPR never stopped cutting DNA.

It did it inside smart gels, releasing biomolecules at command and turning electronic circuits into diagnostic devices (see the paper in Science and the news in Nature). It did in the bacterial genome, by manipulating large chunks of chromosomes as hoped for by synthetic biologists (see Science). It did it in the Mediterranean fruit fly  to unveil sex-determination signals (see Science again) and is busy doing it in sheep to fight lethal child brain disease (as reported by The Guardian). Let’s catch up with the latest CRISPR news!

Oldie but goodie. Sanjaya Rajaram speaks out

Sanjaya_Rajaram_WFPHe does not write pamphlets with easy recipes for a better world. He has spent more time in the fields than captivating audiences. However, it is a symptom of a cultural disease that few people know Sanjaya Rajaram – and many know Vandana Shiva. This former is an Indian agronomist, who won the 2014 World Food Prize, has picked up the torch of Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug, father of the Green Revolution who, in the second half of the last century, doubled grain production in much of the globe, as a result of better seeds, irrigation, fertilizers and pesticides. Rajaram has developed 500 new varieties of wheat grown in 51 countries. He came to Italy for the World Food Research and Innovation Forum promoted by the Emilia Romagna region. Continue reading