Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Oxitec Releases GMO Mosquitoes in Grand Cayman Islands to Combat Dengue

I wonder if these GMO mosquitoes in the Grand Cayman Islands are having an unknown effect on the environment. For my Malaysian readers, don't think you're safe from the GMO mosquitoes. Where in the hell are the Prius-drivin' environmentalists? They get mad at a cowboy driving a Hummer and eating a triple cheeseburger, but they say nothing about all the GMO creatures being introduced throughout the environment that will likely cause chaos before it is all said and done. But I guess if a scientist says it is all cool, then the GMO manipulation is "good" for the environment.

Gimme a break, I don't believe this is a natural outbreak. Dengue didn't really pop up in the news until the last few months. Now, it is all over the news and it has even killed a famous surfer. Coincidentally or not, a company announces that it has introduced GMO mosquitoes to the region around the same time the infection it is supposed to counteract explodes.


Open field trial demonstrates effectiveness of RIDL® system for suppressing a target wild mosquito population

Oxitec and the Mosquito Research and Control Unit of Grand Cayman (MRCU) today announced, at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene annual meeting in Atlanta, the results of their open field trial. This was the first field demonstration of the use of Oxitec’s RIDL strain OX513A to control the dengue carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito.

This genetically sterile mosquito strain has been developed to help combat the dengue carrying mosquito Aedes aegypti. This sterility can be suppressed with a dietary antidote, allowing the strain to be reared in large numbers. Sterile males are then released to seek out and mate wild females, competing for mates with the wild males. If a female mates with a sterile male she will have no offspring, thus reducing the next generation's population. Repeated releases of sufficient numbers of sterile males will result in a reduction in the target mosquito population below the minimum level needed to support dengue transmission.

Male mosquitoes do not bite or spread disease and will mate only with females of the same species, hence the release of sterile male mosquitoes presents a safe alternative to insecticides.

Dr William Petrie of MRCU said ‘Dengue is a debilitating disease one can only get from the bite of an infected mosquito. There are around 100 million cases per annum globally and we need new tools against this mosquito’, a view supported by the World Health Organisation; ‘the only way to prevent dengue virus transmission is to combat the disease-carrying mosquitoes.

The field trial took place in Grand Cayman with sterile male releases from May to October and additional pre- and post-trial monitoring. This followed a successful smaller trial in 2009 that demonstrated that released RIDL males mated successfully with their local counterparts in the open environment. Eggs were supplied from Oxitec’s facilities in the UK and the sterile male mosquitoes were hatched and released by MRCU. After initial production and release testing, releases of male sterile mosquitoes reached the required release level in July. A significant reduction in the local mosquito population was observed from August. All of the trial objectives were successfully met, including the main goal of suppressing the local Aedes aegypti population.

Dr Luke Alphey, Chief Scientific Officer and Founder of Oxitec added ‘Oxitec considers that this approach could be used in many countries to help control the Aedes aegypti mosquito and hence prevent dengue fever. We have been working on this for many years to ensure the approach is both effective and safe. This trial represents the first demonstration in the open field and we are delighted with the results.’

About Dengue
1 WHO Dengue factsheet http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs117/en/index.html

Dengue is the world’s fastest growing mosquito borne viral disease for which there is neither medication nor vaccine. Existing control methods centre on the use of insecticides together with practical methods to reduce the number of likely mosquito breeding sites. Despite this, dengue fever has grown rapidly over the last decades as Aedes aegypti has spread to new countries and, according to the WHO, two fifths of the world’s population, some 2.5bn people, are now at risk.

About Oxitec
Oxitec is a pioneer in controlling insects that spread disease and damage crops. Oxitec has developed RIDL technology that allows the development of sterile males of a target insect species as a control method. This approach is safe, environmentally friendly and sustainable.

About MRCU
The Mosquito Research & Control Unit (MRCU) was established in 1965 and provides mosquito control on Grand Cayman and its sister islands. MRCU also performs leading research into mosquito behaviour, insecticide resistance and control methods and is internationally renowned for its public health contribution.

For further information contact:
Dr Luke Alphey +44 1235 832393
Camilla Beech +44 1235 832393

TSA Airport Scanner Checkpoint Image of the Day

This may or may not represent an actual scene at your local airport this holiday season.

China & Russia Renounce U.S. Dollar in Bilateral Trade Agreements

Yikes, this is not a good sign. The world is slowly weaning itself of its dollar fix. In the past decades, many of the world's major transactions had to pass through the U.S. financial system, because of the world's usage of the dollar. Now that Russia and China are making bilateral deals with their own respective currencies, the dollar's value in the world may soon decrease.

China and Russia have decided to renounce the US dollar and resort to using their own currencies for bilateral trade, Premier Wen Jiabao and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin announced late on Tuesday.

Chinese experts said the move reflected closer relations between Beijing and Moscow and is not aimed at challenging the dollar, but to protect their domestic economies.

Source: Asia One

Monday, November 22, 2010

Panasonic Discontinues Production of Technics 1200 Analog DJ Turntables

I bought my 1st set of turntables back in 1993. They were a cheap belt drive system that I bought pre-Internet from some DJ store in Brooklyn I saw in a magazine advertisement. I later updated to a decent Gemini direct drive system and while that lasted me for a decade, these tables weren't Technics 1200. However, as much as I wanted to own my own Technics 1200s, I never had the money to spend on such luxury. Nevertheless, I promised myself that I would get me a set of these turntables one day no matter how old I was.

It is funny how time has a way of slipping away from us if we don't seize the moment. I gave my Gemini turntables to charity back in 2005 when Lindsey Lohan and other celebrity "DJs" with their iPod mix sets came on the scene. For five (5) years, I haven't thought much about DJing as I became an iTunes head myself. Last weekend, I went to my storage facility and saw the crates of my old records. Now that I'm a little older and a tid bit wiser, maybe I'm now in a position where I can finally realize my dream and buy some Technics 1200.

Unfortunately, I just found out that Panasonic has discontinued its analog turntable production line including all the Technics 1200 (see above picture). I believe that this is a recent announcement, so there are probably still various units in the marketplace. However, the cost of the these turntable units will inevitability rise as supplies diminish. I better scramble and make a purchase before that happens.

R.I.P. Technics 1200. You will never be gone with the number of units still in use and production today.

Source: Judd Studio Engineering