ScienceScope

Science  26 Sep 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5641, pp. 1827
  1. Academies to U.N.: No Clones Please

    Scientific academies from more than 60 nations have called on the United Nations to ban human reproductive cloning but bless research on using cloning techniques to obtain embryonic stem cells. Organized by the InterAcademy Panel on International Issues (IAP), the 22 September statement says that human cloning should be forbidden for safety and ethical reasons. And basic research should continue, it asserts, although “it remains to be established if cloning for therapeutic purposes will be viable.”

    IAP co-chair Yves Quéré said he hopes the document will influence a U.N. legal panel that will meet on 29 September to discuss possible action. A U.N. ban would be a mostly symbolic move, but it could influence policy in numerous nations.

  2. French Court Upholds Verdict Against Pasteur

    PARIS—A French appeals court has upheld an earlier ruling that found the Pasteur Institute in Paris responsible for producing human growth hormone contaminated with the agent that causes Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a brain-wasting illness (Science, 12 July 2002, p. 175). But it cut in half, to about $322,000, the fine the institute must pay for its role in the death of one young woman.

    The split decision makes it unlikely that the families of about 90 other victims will reopen settled cases, says institute spokesperson André de Marco. Still, it could play a role in an ongoing criminal case against 10 scientists, including the institute's Fernand Dray.

  3. Tilya Tepe Treasure Still Missing in Afghanistan

    ScienceScope's report that Afghanistan's lost Tilya Tepe gold had been found (Science, 12 September, p. 1453) was apparently premature. Afghan officials did open a vault deep under Kabul's presidential palace last month, but they now say the gold they found belonged to the National Bank, according to a UNESCO official who spoke with Makhdoum Raheen, the Afghan Minister of Information and Culture. There are still unopened “safe rooms” that might hold the missing treasure, the source says.

  4. Isabel's Lingering Effects

    Researchers in the eastern United States are cleaning up after last week's Hurricane Isabel—and studying its impact. At the Virginia Institute of Marine Science on Gloucester Point, “there's not a single plank left” of two piers, says fisheries scientist Romuald Lipcius. Towering seas toppled a sample-filled house (see below) and claimed a half-dozen large mesocosm tanks on one pier. Further north along Chesapeake Bay, the storm damaged seawater systems and destroyed an aquatic greenhouse at two University of Maryland labs.

    CREDIT: BILL WALKER/VIMS

    But biologists are also probing post-Isabel ecosystems. “Sometimes a hurricane can be quite beneficial” for species, Lipcius says. Crab larvae, for instance, can be swept toward sheltering shores. Geologists, meanwhile, are having a field day examining coastal changes, including a new channel splitting North Carolina's Hatteras Island. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)mapped 600 kilometers of coastline with plane-mounted sensors before and after the storm. USGS oceanographer Abby Sallenger says the data could be “the best gathered on the regional-scale impact of hurricanes on beaches.”

  5. Europe Delays ITER Site Decision

    A council of European Union ministers has put off picking a single European candidate for the competition to host the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). With two strong entries—France's Cadarache and Spain's Vandellòs (Science, 12 September, p. 1456)—the E.U.'s Competitiveness Council this week said it will delay a decision until late November. The $5 billion ITER hopes to demonstrate the practicality of generating power by fusing atomic nuclei rather than splitting them. Sites in Canada and Japan are also in contention for the prize, to be announced by year's end.