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OpenMarket: Gregory Conko

  • Monsanto Biotech Monopoly, Courtesy of the EU

    January 22, 2007
    Today's Wall Street Journal has a feature (link here for subscribers) article discussing DuPont's renewed efforts on crop biotechnology. DuPont "announced it will shift about $100 million to [the biotech division of its subsidiary, Pioneer Hi-Bred], laying off employees in other areas in the process." Why such a seemingly radical shift? To take advantage of new opportunities created by a growing demand for corn and other crops to produce ethanol. Now, it's true that biotech can help make ethanol production from crop plants much more efficient, but the demand for ethanol only exists due to government fiat. It's ironic that DuPont/Pioneer finds itself the odd man out in biotech seeds for essentially the same reason.

    Pioneer is a venerable old name in the crop seed biz -- arguably...
  • Good News, Bad News on Food Biotech

    January 19, 2007

    Last year, global biotech crop acreage increased more than 13 percent from 2005. By year-end 2006, 10.3 million farmers in 22 countries were growing biotech crops on 252 million acres, according to a new study by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA). That's good news. But the better news is that farmers in less developed countries are among the biggest beneficiaries. More than 9.3 million resource-poor farmers in 11 countries grew biotech crops last year, often on plots of just three to four acres. Closer to home, the USDA reports that 2006 biotech crop acreage in the United States increased by 9.6...

  • Drug Industry Gone to the Dogs

    January 9, 2007
    My dog is fat. Obese, even, if the FDA is to be believed. The arrival of my new-born son two years ago has meant fewer and fewer long runs on the weekends for me and the dog, as well as more and more table 'scraps' being hand-fed to the pooch by the boy. Tipping the scales at a whopping 90 pounds (or roughly 20 percent) over his ideal weight, BJ needs some help. Fortunately, last week the FDA approved the very first diet drug for dogs -- a Pfizer product called derlotapide, to be marketed under the trade name Slentrol.

    The introduction of a prescription-only diet drug for pets says a lot about a country. (It might suggest a thing or two about me personally as well, but let...
  • FDA Animal Cloning Decision Comes Years Too Late

    January 4, 2007
    In an invited post on The Hill's Congress Blog yesterday, I argued that the FDA's announcement that it had officially found meat and milk from cloned cows, pigs, and goats to be safe for human consumption was welcome news, but way over due. The National Academy of Science came to the same conclusion four years ago. And even FDA had come to that conclusion three years ago; it just stalled for three additional years culling through more...
  • Fake Boobs and Phony Science

    November 21, 2006
    To follow up on a thread from yesterday, FDA's decision to let silicon gel filled breast implants back on the market is noteworthy for two other reasons not mentioned by my colleagues.

    The first real breakthrough on this front was back in 1999, when a federal judge in Alabama appointed a National Science Panel pursuant to a Daubert motion to investigate the reliability of the plaintiffs' expert witnesses in the Silicone Gel Breast Implant Products Litigation. The panel examined the epidemiological evidence available as of 1999 and concluded that breast implants were associated with an increase the relative risk of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune and rheumatic conditions by 15 percent (not...
  • Junk Food Blogging

    November 16, 2006
    Sandy Szwarc, a registered nurse, certified culinary professional, CEI friend, and all around good person, recently started a blog on the science of food -- especially so called "junk food." On her blog, you can read all about "the science that mainstream media doesn't report and how to critically think about the junk they do that's not fit to swallow." You can also read some of the pieces she's written for CEI here and here.

    Happy blogging, Sandy.
  • The Sleeping Pill Ate My Homework

    October 17, 2006

    A couple of months back, US Congressman Patrick Kennedy drove

    his car into a security barricade near the Capitol building early one Thursday

    morning, leading many observers to think this scion of Camelot had been

    throwing back a few too many at the Hawk ‘n' Dove, a Capitol Hill bar where,

    according to the Boston

    , he'd been seen drinking earlier that evening. But, “no,” said Paddy. “I consumed no alcohol prior to the incident.” In an excuse reminiscent of ‘the dog ate my

    homework,' Kennedy said it was his

    sleeping pills that did it


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