Science  16 Jun 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5780, pp. 1583

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  1. Coral Reefs to Get Protection

    1. Erik Stokstad

    Environmentalists are cheering a Bush Administration decision to phase out commercial fishing around one of the most remote and undisturbed coral reefs in the world. The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve's 348,550 square kilometers is home to a rich diversity of fish, turtles, and mammals. Two decades of exploitation, halted in 2000, wiped out the reef's native lobsters.

    Last fall, the governor of Hawaii banned fishing within state waters. The new management plan, expected to be announced this week, would eventually extend the ban to federal waters, 80 kilometers offshore. Although reef fishing generates revenues of only about $1 million a year, Pew Charitable Trusts' Environment Program Director Joshua Reichert calls the new plan a “significant policy achievement.” There will be 60 days for public comment to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

  2. Start-Up Center Starting Up

    1. Gong Yidong

    BEIJING—China hopes to seed its biotechnology industry with a national incubation center in Beijing.

    Last week, officials announced that the Beijing International Trust and Investment Co. Ltd. would invest $160 million over 3 years to create the China National Academic Center for Biotechnology. The center, whose goal will be nurturing 100 companies and up to 500 research labs, will focus on the start-up and development phase of companies created to exploit Chinese technologies. Zhu Zhen, an expert in plant genetics engineering with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, says the Beijing center is well-positioned to help scientists overcome traditional obstacles to turning their discoveries into products.

  3. Global Health a Taxing Problem

    1. Martin Enserink

    PARIS—Passengers departing from French airports will pay a new tax starting next month that will help buy drugs for the world's poorest nations. The campaign, dubbed UNITAID, is expected to raise $250 million annually. Thirteen other nations worldwide have promised to follow suit with similar fees.

    Surcharges range from $1.25 for economy flights to a whopping $50 for first-class intercontinental tickets. Global health advocates applaud the plan, long championed by French President Jacques Chirac, as needed support for a new International Drug Purchase Facility that will negotiate low prices for drugs to combat diseases affecting the developing world.

  4. Transgenics Make Progress

    1. Elisabeth Pain

    The first medicine developed using transgenic biotechnology could soon hit European hospitals. Amid controversy, the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) found earlier this month that ATryn, which contains recombinant human anticlotting proteins extracted from the milk of transgenic goats, is fit for public use. If the European Commission agrees, patients with congenital antithrombin deficiency, a clotting disorder, may soon receive the drug.


    Produced by U.S. company GTC Biotherapeutics Inc., the drug initially received a no-go from EMEA because the study's sample size was too small. At the company's request, EMEA reconsidered and accepted data from previously excluded trial patients. EMEA declared on 1 June that the benefits of ATryn outweighed the risks, and the final go-ahead is expected in 3 months. But some researchers have expressed concern about the scanty data offered to support the decision.

  5. House Panel to Bush: Math Later

    1. Jeffrey Mervis

    A new $250 million push by the White House to strengthen mathematics for elementary and middle school students appears doomed this year after a House panel zeroed it out of a 2007 spending bill for the Department of Education (ED).

    Dubbed Math Now, the initiative was to be the centerpiece of a $412 million request to improve math and science education that is part of the president's broader American Competitiveness Initiative. But legislators decided to put off the program while an ED-funded panel, launched last month, studies the effectiveness of various math curricula (Science, 19 May, p. 982). “It made more sense to wait until the panel has finished,” says a congressional aide. The spending panel provided only $97 million for ED's share of the competitiveness initiative.

    Education lobbyists don't expect any more support in the Senate. “I got the sense several weeks ago that it was a lost cause this year,” says Ken Krehbiel of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. At the same time, however, legislators added $42 million to the president's $183 million request for the Mathematics and Science Partnerships, a state block-grant program for precollege math and science education.