Does the world need another international treaty to deal with future pandemics?

Even as nations struggle to cope with Covid-19 catastrophes, 23 world leaders have called for the adoption of an international pandemic treaty. Amongst the signatories are the leaders of the United Kingdom, Germany, South Africa, France, and Indonesia, as well as Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organisation.

Notable by their absence were the heads of the United States, China, Brazil and India.

The text of their joint statement explains:

The main goal of this treaty would be to foster an all of government and all of society approach, strengthening national, regional and global capacities… MORE

3 polyamorous parents listed on child’s birth certificate in British Columbia 

A new chapter in the Reproductive Revolution. A polyamorous “throuple” in British Columbia has succeeded in a legal battle to have all of their names recorded on their baby’s birth certificate.

Bill, Eliza and Olivia have lived as a “triad” since 2017. The baby, Clarke, was conceived through sexual intercourse between Bill and Eliza. But Olivia induced lactation so that she could care for Clarke and was the first to feed him after his birth. Since then, the three partners and their child have lived an active family life.

In her judgement, Justice Sandra Wilkinson said that there was… MORE

Activist calls for moratorium on publication of Chinese transplant research   

China continues to use executed prisoners to supply its rapidly growing demand for organ transplants, according to Adnan Sharif, of an NGO, Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting.

Writing in the BMJ, he says that China’s constant denials that its hospitals are using organs from executed prisoners of conscience, political dissidents, and troublesome ethnic minorities, are implausible.

In fact, evidence of a vast infrastructure of facilities and staff dedicated to big volume solid organ transplantation indicates that organ donation and transplantation activity far exceed China’s official figures, with estimates of up to 90,000 transplants a year. The Tianjin First… MORE

‘Public involvement’ needed to pave way for controversial science, say researchers

In October of 2020, Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier were awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their discovery of CRISPR, which has transformed the world of genetic engineering.

CRISPR has been used to fight lung cancer and correct the mutation responsible for sickle cell anaemia in stem cells. But the technology was also used by a Chinese scientist to secretly and illegally edit the genomes of twin girls -- the first-ever heritable mutation of the human germline made with genetic engineering.

"We've moved away from an era of science where we understood the risks that came with new technology… MORE

At long last, the first issue of the ‘Journal of Controversial Ideas’!  

More than a year after the launch of the controversial journal, the Journal of Controversial Ideas, the first issue has appeared. (BioEdge reported its imminent publication back in February 2019.)

The open-access journal accepts articles which are might be rejected by other journals as “offensive, immoral, or dangerous”. It even allows authors to publish under pseudonyms, although the editors have declared that all contributions will be rigorously peer-reviewed.

In the editorial for the first issue, which appeared recently, they say that they had received 91 submissions, of which 10 were accepted and 68 were rejected. Another 13… MORE

Ukraine clinic seeks to genetically engineer babies 

The ever-alert stem cell scientist and blogger Paul Knoepfler has flagged a Ukrainian clinic which apparently intends to market genetic enhancement. He says that one of his colleagues received an email from the Medeus Medical Center. It read:

“Hello! Our Medical Center based on the Institute of Quantum Medicine is opening its own laboratory for genetic editing of stem cells. Our long-term goals include working with humans using edited stem cells. We plan to edit grey hair colour, skin quality and breast size. We need a person who could lead this project and train geneticists from Ukraine to… MORE

Planned Parenthood disavows its founder (but not abortion)

Planned Parenthood has a founder problem. Margaret Sanger was a racist and a eugenicist. Critics of Planned Parenthood have been needling the organisation over its founder’s dark ideas for decades. Finally, under the pressure of the anti-racist movement, PP has cracked.

In an astonishing mea culpa in the op-ed page of the New York Times, Alexis McGill Johnson, the new president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, writes that

Up until now, Planned Parenthood has failed to own the impact of our founder’s actions. We have defended Sanger as a protector of bodily autonomy and self-determination, while excusing… MORE

French novelist Michel Houellebecq won’t submit to euthanasia wave

Michel Houellebecq (above, with cigarette) is France’s most acclaimed living novelist, a perennial nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature, and a provocateur extraordinaire. Contradictory adjectives blanket his name like particolored Post-It notes: brilliant, pornographic, brutally honest, Islamophobic, violent, humanist, nihilistic, repugnant, bold, Marxist, reactionary, etc, etc.

He must also be one of the most outspoken opponents of euthanasia in France. In a recent article in Le Figaro (republished in UnHerd), he explains himself, in his characteristically bitter and poetic language:

Partisans of euthanasia like to gargle on words whose meanings they distort to such an extent that they… MORE

‘Trust me. I’m an Expert’

“Not trusting the experts is costing Americans their lives” was a headline in a prominent Australian think-tank. But can experts always be trusted? A sensitive article in The Hastings Center blog by Inmaculada de Melo-Martín, a bioethicist at Weill-Cornell Medical College examines the problem.

The first issue, she points out, is that experts obviously do not agree amongst themselves. Their differences are on the front pages of newspapers – about the effectiveness of vaccines or about the significance of blood clots, for instance.

In a context like the one we are enduring, where scientific evidence is limited… MORE

Oregon assisted suicide deaths continue to creep ahead

Mt Hood and Trillium Lake in Oregon 

Here are the latest figures on assisting dying in the US state of Oregon. The 2020 data shows, among other concerns, that:

  • The numbers continue to rise steadily -- 15% per year average; they are 0.61% of all deaths in Oregon (2% of all cancer deaths), up 20% from 2019
  • From 1 Jan 2020 the 15-day waiting period between first request and death could be waived, if a doctor (who may never have met the person and may have no expertise in the condition) says the person… MORE

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