The Cross-Border Biotech Blog

Biotechnology, Health and Business in Canada, the United States and Worldwide

Tag Archives: USDA

Wednesday Brain Dump: Plant Matter Edition

Some stories from the world of plant biotech:

P.S.  After today, the Wednesday Brain Dump will be dropping the “Wednesday” and becoming an occasional feature.

 

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Wednesday Brain Dump: Around the World Edition

Wednesday Brain Dump: February 25, 2009

The question this week: a shot in the arm or a kick in the teeth?

A shot in the arm for:

  • Fewer shots in the arm! (har) 
    • British Columbia is the first jurisdiction in North America to offer a children’s vaccine called Infanrix-hexa™, which contains six immunizations in one, resulting in three fewer needles in the overall B.C. infant vaccine schedule, and
    • With the discovery of a constant region of flu virus protein hemagglutinin, a universal flu vaccine may be possible (no more yearly shots);
  • The Naval Surface Warfare Center in White Oak, a suburb of Washington, where the FDA is spending $1.15 billion to consolidate its offices and labs and to anchor a new biotech hub;
  • Pine Island, near Rochester, Minnesota, which could soon be the home to a new biotech research, development and manufacturing park with the help of up to $900 million in funding reportedly pledged by Steve Burrill.  Funding announcements also from Maryland and Pittsburgh;
  • Sustainable agriculture, when the White House announced its nominee for second-in-command at USDA: Kathleen Merrigan of Tufts University, who had been a top choice of the Cornucopia Institute to run USDA’s National Organic Program;
  • The National Science Foundation, from the stimulus (a $3 billion boost) and the budget (a 6.7% increase, to $6.49 billion);
  • Multiple Sclerosis, with Merck, Novartis, Teva, Biogen Idec and Sanofi Aventis all planning to release new oral therapeutics between now and 2012;
  • Conflict of interest disclosure, with a new editorial in PLoS Medicine;
  • Deterrence, with the arrest of four animal-rights extremists;
  • Organ failure biomarkers,
    • with the discovery of liver toxicity-associated MicroRNAs, and
    • with the injection by Pfizer Canada of $1 million to the PROOF Centre to fund research into vital organ failure biomarkers; and
  • Aliens.

A kick in the teeth for:

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Being Organic Means Never Having to Say You’re Cloned

The Globe and Mail carried an article last week about the revised Organic Product Regulations that will come into effect in Canada on June 30, 2009. The Organic Product Regulations (as they did in 2006) incorporate by reference the Canada General Standards Board CGSB 32.310 Standards, and it’s those standards that were amended October 1, 2008 to expressly prohibit cloned animals or their descendants (pdf).   The bottom line, as Ted Soudant, chairman of the Organic Council of Ontario said, is

[t]hat [cloning] would be something that wouldn’t really be considered normal or right by the [organics] industry.

U.S. officials decided last year that cloned milk and meat couldn’t claim to be organic under the National Organic Program; so for now, anyone hoping for genetically identical organic steaks in North America would have to keep their fingers crossed for twins.

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U.S. Stimulus Compromise (Updated)

Initial reporting (NYT, WSJ) on the bill coming out of the House-Senate conference committee this evening indicates that the $789 billion package will include most of the Bio-related provisions:

Update 10am: More details from ScienceInsider based on Pelosi’s fact sheet:

  • The Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which supports US physical science, will receive $1.6 billion.
  • $400 million will be provided to fund a new mini agency within DOE called the Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy. Obama’s energy secretary, Steve Chu, is a fan. Now congress has bestowed their blessing — and big money –on his dream energy program.
  • NASA will get $1 billion including $400 million for climate change research.
  • The National Institute of Standards and Technology will receive $580 million.
  • The National Science Foundation would receive the full $3 billion increase that the House had passed last month. That’s a 50% boost to its $6 billion budget. The breakdown of that number is not clear, but the House version contained $2 billion more for research grants; $900 million for three infrastructure programs, including a revived $200 million extramural facilities competition; and $100 million for two education programs.

Update 5pm:

  • The $3 billion in NSF funding breaks down as follows: $2.5 billion for research (peer-reviewed proposals); $100 million for the university research instrumentation program; and $400 million for national labs.
  • The NIST money is for infrastructure: $220 million for lab equipment and $360 million for facilities.
  • USDA gets $850 million for infrastructure.
  • NOAA gets $600 million for facilities and equipment.

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