Is CRISPR legit, Congress makes a significant move and the FDA tries to decide what makes healthy food “healthy.”

First results of CRISPR gene editing of normal embryos released

(New Scientist, 3/9/2017, Michael Le Page) 

CRISPR sure is a hot topic lately.  Last month the US Patent and Trademark Office made a ruling on who should own the rights to CRISPR.  This week, a team in China has corrected genetic mutations in at least some of the cells in three normal human embryos using CRISPR.  This is the first study to describe the results of using CRISPR in viable human embryos.  While this study is considered to be very small, the results are encouraging. 

Saving GINA: Is Genetic Privacy Imperiled?

(DNA Science Blog, 3/9/2017, Ricki Lewis)

According to the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), employers can’t use genetic information to hire, fire, or promote an employee, or require genetic testing, and health insurers can’t require genetic tests nor use results to deny coverage.  However, a new bill passed its first hurdle this week in Congress that threatens to take away that protection.  This new bill is built around an exception in GINA concerning genetic testing that is part of health or genetic services the employer offers, such as part of a wellness program. However, GINA stipulates that only the person and the health care provider or board certified genetic counselor can view the results. GINA also spells out that genetic testing as part of a wellness program must be entirely voluntary.

What makes a food ‘healthy,’ anyway? FDA tries to answer

(STAT News, 3/9/2017, Sheila Kaplan)

We’ve all seen the articles…eat this not that.  Eat Healthy, Live Longer.  But what does “healthy” actually mean?  The Food and Drug Administration is on a mission to redefine healthy.  That effort will continue next week as the FDA convenes a public meeting on the issue, after having asked for a broader input.  More than 870 individuals and groups have responded so far, among them: food company lobbyists, nutritionists, mothers, consumer groups, and even a grammarian, Holly Frost, who asked the FDA to protect the English language by asking the public to eat “healthfully,” instead of “healthy.”

—Compiled by Social Media Specialist Jillian Scola