Saturday, May 23, 2009

IVF and the health of the future baby

Although bioethicists and policymakers often debate the merits and the permissible boundaries of assisted reproduction techniques (ARTs), IVF seems to be a (ethical) given even in more conservative legal environments: couples ought to be able to have children with IVF. It is important, however, to keep looking at health outcomes to make sure that the empirical foundation of an ethical argument is solid.

Human reproduction published two papers that advance our understanding of ARTs. The first paper shows that IVF twins are far more likely to need hospital treatment than naturally-conceived twins. Normally conceived twins are healthier and IVF twins spend about an extra 4 days in hospital after birth, have an almost 4-fold increased risk of admission to neo-natal intensive care, and an increased risk of hospital admission in the first three years. The second paper shows that
children born from embryos that were frozen and stored are as healthy as other artificially conceived youngsters.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hans Rosling on HIV: New facts and stunning data visuals

Hans Rosling, who wrote the preface to the book on global health I edited with Anna Gatti, presents recent data on the HIV-AIDS epidemic. Interesting powerpoint.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fake peer review

The Scientist reports that Elsevier published 6 fake journals. These titles were: the Australasian Journal of General Practice, the Australasian Journal of Neurology, the Australasian Journal of Cardiology, the Australasian Journal of Clinical Pharmacy, the Australasian Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine, and the Australasian Journal of Bone & Joint [Medicine].

[Elsevier] produced a pharmaceutical company-funded publication in the early 2000s without disclosing that the "journal" was corporate sponsored.

Merck is among the undisclosed corporate sponsor of these 'peer reviewed' journals.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Day The Endangered Species Act Died

The Obama Administration announced today, through Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, that it would not break with the Bush II Administration's policy of abandoning the Polar Bear to its fate. Despite both the clear intent and letter of the Endangered Species Act to contrary, Secretary Salazar stated that "The Endangered Species Act is not the appropriate tool for us to deal with what is a global issue, and that is the issue of global warming"

Full post here: The Day The Endangered Species Act Died.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Research on asbestos litigation

The semester is over and it's time to go back to an old love: comparing the compensation of asbestos victims and explaining how it contributes to our understanding of capitalism and modernity.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Swine flu or NAFTA flu

Interesting interview published on Democracy Now!

The video interview looks at the political choices behind the current pandemic threat with a focus on the livestock revolution:

The swine are not in the driver’s seat. They are not in a position to organize themselves into what are now cities of pigs that stretch around the world.

We really have to go back to the livestock revolution. Before World War II, poultry and pigs were basically farmed in backyard operations across this country. So we’re talking about poultry flocks of the size of seventy chickens. After the World War II, all those independent farming operations were—many of them were basically put under one roof and increasingly put under the control of particular corporations—Holly Farms, Tyson, Perdue. And the geography of the poultry and pork change. So, while previously pork and poultry were grown across the country, it was now grown, or they’re now raised within only a few southeastern states here in the United States. After the livestock revolution, poultry and pigs were now being grown and raised in much larger populations, so we go from seventy poultry now up to populations of 30,000 at a time. So we have cities of pigs and poultry.

That model was subsequently spread around the world. So, starting in the 1970s, the livestock revolution was brought to East Asia. You have the CP Group, which is now the fourth—world’s fourth-largest poultry company, in Thailand. That company subsequently brought the livestock revolution into China once China opened up its doors in 1980. So we have cities of poultry and pork developing around the world.

And this phenomenon goes hand in hand with the very structural adjustment programs that the IMF and the World Bank helped institute during this time. So if you’re a poor country, you’re having financial difficulties, in order to get some money to bail you out, you had to go to the International Monetary Fund for a loan. And in return, the IMF would make demands on you to change your economy in such a way that would allow you—will force you to open up your economy to outside corporations, including agricultural companies. And, of course, that would have a detrimental effect on domestic agriculture. So, small companies within poor countries could not out-compete large agribusinesses from the North that are subsidized by the industrial governments. So they’re not able to compete with them, so there’s—they either must contract their labor and land to the companies, foreign companies that are coming into their country, or they basically retire out of the business and sell their land to the large companies that are coming in. So, in other words, the spread of the cities of pork and poultry go hand in hand with this structural adjustment program.

And, of course, NAFTA is our local version of that...