Abstracts: Editing Embryos, Secretive Embargoes, Bad Science, and More


• A Swedish researcher is trying to edit the genes of human embryos with the goal of understanding how to rid children of certain disorders and diseases in the future. Although the embryos will not be allowed to grow past 14 days, the research still faces criticism from people who say that editing the DNA of a human embryo is morally wrong. (NPR)

Using close-hold embargoes, the FDA can offer journalists exclusive access to new information on the condition that they do not contact outside sources. Visual: Zebulon Rogerson/FDA/Wikimedia Commons

• By using strict embargoes that bar journalists who are given access to certain information from seeking comment from outside sources, the FDA — and likely other agencies — are able to control both when a story comes out, and how it is told. (Scientific American)

• What’s good for a researcher is not always what’s good for science as a whole. The incentives to publish often, and in the most prestigious journals, inevitably lead to weak or manipulated results. (The Atlantic)

• As part of an ongoing investigation of doctors and sexual abuse of patients, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that many states make it incredibly difficult to find out if a doctor has a history of sex offenses, and many doctors that do are allowed to continue practicing medicine without a public hearing. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

• After a U.N. meeting to discuss the problem of antibiotic resistance, world leaders made a non-binding, non-committal agreement to provide better regulation and improve reporting of antibiotic usage. Still, one researcher said that having it discussed by the U.N. for the first time is a big step forward. (New York Times)

• Researchers have found that if given access to software remotely, it’s possible to steal sophisticated AI programs from companies like Microsoft and IBM – and any user data the AI might be analyzing. (Quartz)

• With spread out towns and closing clinics, the Western U.S. is working towards solutions for getting health care access to rural communities. (High Country News)

• Center-pivot irrigation has helped feed millions of people, but it may also draining the largest aquifer in the U.S. (Pacific Standard Magazine)

• In August, a 45-foot sinkhole opened near Tampa, Florida, sending 215 million gallons of radioactive water into an aquifer. The company responsible has said the water won’t reach nearby wells, but others aren’t so sure. (Mother Jones)

• And finally, as oceans continue to rise and storms increase in severity, more and more cities are developing “living shorelines” to try and prevent flooding. (Grist)