The Weekly Wrap-Up

| September 6, 2014


SVU for food, Taking security to the next level, How to be unethical 101, and A big South American dinosaur.

Words by Ryan Grice

Following the 2013 horse meat scandal in Europe (contaminated beef products were found on an alarming number of supermarket shelves), the British government will likely decide to put together an elite squad to investigate food based offences that are especially heinous: they will be known as the Food Crime Unit. The concept came at the recommendation of food security expert Professor Chris Elliot who stated that while Britain had one of the safest food service systems in the world, he believes that his new plan will take consumer safety to the next level and ease the strain of law enforcement officers who claim ‘food crime’ is becoming a major problem. Cue double lawsuit from Dick Wolf and the British government.

British-owned multinational bank Barclays are the first to decide that fingerprints just don’t cut it when it comes to their customer’s financial security and have adopted a new finger-scanning system that instead utilises the unique vein arrangement in one’s finger to access accounts. The technology, pioneered by Japanese company Hitachi, is already in use in Poland and Japan and allows customers to deposit and withdraw cash at ATMs without a card or pin. One of the primary reasons for this new technology being more accurate than fingerprint scanning is that the finger has to be ‘living’ for it to work; i.e. attached to a human. Bets for how long it takes government agencies to misuse this technology are being taken now.



A test case for an appeal was dismissed by a full bench of the federal court this week in Sydney, ruling in favour of biotechnology company Myriad Genetics being able to continue owning the rights to a particular strain of DNA that they have patented. Owning this gene BRCA1, which is closely linked to an increased hereditary risk of breast and ovarian cancers, not only allows them exclusive rights to research, but also the ability to charge up to $3000 to test patients for the gene when the charge for such a process would usually be less than $500. Not only have we privatised biological research and advancement, but any argument against this is not even considered through the necessary channels.



American palaeontologist Kenneth Lacovara and his team have made one of  the biggest dinosaur discoveries in modern history in Argentina this week in finding approximately 70% of the remains of a new creature dubbed Dreadnoughtus Schrani. Measuring 26m from head to tail and weighing in at almost 60 tonnes, he may have been a vegetarian, but likely had very few predators due to his sheer size. The 77 million year-old fossil was complete enough to tell researchers that the animal had perished in a flood, and was likely still growing at the time of death. “Certainly, just in terms of physiology, DreadnoughtusArgentinosaurus and some of the other big titanosaurs must have been approaching the limit of what was possible, but we don’t know where that wall is,” said Dr. Lacovara.

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