Tag Archives: GM

General Motors Bicycles? Yes, They Are Real And They Are Coming Soon

When you think about GM, full name General Motors, you think about current brands like Buick Chevrolet, Cadillac, and GMC, and old names like Pontiac and Oldsmobile. Would you have thought GM would be producing a bike? Most may have said no, but a GM bike is becoming a reality.

GM is releasing an electric bike next year as an alternative to a motor vehicle. Actually, GM is releasing two different types of electric bike in order to compete with rideshare companies, Uber and Lyft, and rival automaker Ford, in an attempt to enter the new market in urban electric bikes.

The e-bike is not a normal bicycle that you have to pedal just to get around town. The e-bike will provide a small battery-powered electric motor to help people with pedaling when going up hills and traveling long distances on flat terrain. Supporters of the e-bikes say it provides a realistic alternative to driving and a sweat-free alternative to traditional biking.

Along with GM’s announcement on Friday about the e-bikes, they also asked the public to name the bikes for the chance to win $10,000.

This is not GM’s first rodeo with electric products. They currently have the Chevy Bolt, and they came out with the e-bike concept in 2015.

The e-bike will be lightweight and also foldable, which wlll be useful for urban commuters.

As of right now, GM has not and will not say where the bikes will be produced and where they will be sold, only saying that all of those details will be released soon enough.

Genetically modified salmon receives FDA approval

The FDA has approved a fish genetically engineered to develop more rapidly than non-genetically engineered salmon, named the AquAdvantage Salmon. It’s the first GMO animal approved for human consumption in the United States.

The AquAdvantage salmon develops twice as fast as non-GM Atlantic salmon, due to the over-expression of a growth hormone. AquaBounty Technologies, the organization that made the fish, has been attempting to get it through approval for just about 20 years. The fish is an Atlantic salmon which has been genetically modified to incorporate genes from various fish, including a growth hormone gene and the promoter of an antifreeze gene.

Genetically modified salmon is now FDA approved. Graphic by Katie Gibson
Genetically modified salmon is now FDA approved. Graphic by Katie Gibson

In a statement released November 20th by AquaBounty’s CEO Ron Stotish, he said, “AquAdvantage Salmon is a game-changer that brings healthy and nutritious food to consumers in an environmentally responsible manner without damaging the ocean and other marine habitats. Using land-based aquaculture systems, this rich source of protein and other nutrients can be farmed close to major consumer markets in a more sustainable manner.”

The FDA has only agreed to AquaBounty’s present breeding and growing setup, where fish are bred in Canada on Prince Edward Island, and sterilized eggs are shipped to the highlands of Panama to be developed to market size. On the off-chance that the product takes off and the organization needs to add additional facilities, each of these would need to get approved separately. “It’s not clear that it would be a simple process by any means,” Smith says.

With the current administrative fight behind it, AquaBounty still has to win over grocery stores and customers careful about GM products. “It’s difficult to disentangle consumer’s attitudes from their understanding of the technology,” Smith says, “there are a lot of politics of [GM organisms] that might inform people’s decision-making that might not have anything to do whatsoever with the technology.”

What’s more, in light of the fact that the new product can be labeled as farmed Atlantic salmon without mention of the genetic modification, shoppers may not know they’re eating it unless sellers explicitly decline to purchase it, Smith says. Target, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods have stated that they weren’t going to sell, or buy, the fish.

Could pig organs save lives?

This month, scientists gathered at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington to talk about Crispr, a new method for editing genes.

In the 1990s, researchers explored the likelihood of using pig organs in humans, a technique known as xenotransplantation. Experts hoped that pig organs could be cleansed of viruses and other pathogens that might harm their human hosts. That research stalled in 1998, when Jay Fishman and his colleagues discovered a strange new danger.

Pig cells contain multiple copies of embedded viruses called porcine endogenous retroviruses, or PERVs. PERVs can produce full-blown viruses able to infect other pig cells. When researchers mixed pig and human cells, they found the pig viruses could also contaminate human cells; causing cancer or other diseases.

Recently developed methods for editing genes could make pig organs safe for human transplant.

Among the scientists describing the recent scientific advances was one of Crispr’s pioneers, George Church of Harvard Medical School. Dr. Church’s experiment had its origins in the shortage of available human organs for transplants. Thousands of people die each year waiting for hearts, lungs and livers.

pigs
“In the 1990s, researchers explored the likelihood of using pig organs in humans, a technique known as xenotransplantation.”

“It’s a cruel situation currently, that someone who needs a heart transplant has to pin their chance for a healthy life on the untimely death of another person,” said David A. Dunn, an expert on transplantation at the State University of New York at Oswego.

In a typical experiment, scientists used Crispr to alter a single gene. But in recent work with pig cells, Dr. Church and his colleagues used Crispr to simultaneously disable all 62 of the viruses. The team engineered a new set of genes that produced enzymes that hunted for PERVs and snipped out bits of the viral DNA.

After the experiment, the viruses in the pig genome showed little activity. And despite the drastic genomic surgery, the chromosomes showed no irregularities and the cells grew normally.

The researchers hope that this achievement may someday make it possible to use pig organs for transplantation into humans, which will reduce the amount of deaths per year of people waiting for available organs for transplant.

We should assume and expect scientists to promptly develop their gene editing skills in the years to come.