News in Brief: Feds Support Ruling Against Biotech Gene Patents, and More

Surprise – Feds Support Ruling Against Biotech Gene Patents

The Justice Department has sided with a judge in Manhattan in saying that big corporations cannot put patents on genes and DNA code, according to National Public Radio online. Advocate groups sued Myriad Genetics, a private health care company, over its patents on two genes used in breast cancer tests. Myriad appealed the New York City judge’s ruling and asked the Justice Department to weigh in, thinking the federal government would continue its tradition of standing by the biotech industry. Instead, the Justice Department filed an amicus curiae that supported the lower court ruling. The US patent office said it would not enforce the ruling until the litigation is resolved, but the ruling could have an impact on the genetically modified food business as DuPont and others continue to challenge Monsanto’s patents on crop genes.

Bush Admits to Authorizing Torture of Terror Suspect

Former President George W. Bush has confirmed that he personally authorized torture. In a memoir due out next week, Bush writes that he approved the waterboarding of alleged 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheik Mohammed, according to The Washington Post. Waterboarding is a torture technique that simulates drowning. Human rights experts say the admission, made in Bush’s upcoming book “Decision Points,” could have legal consequences for him if an attempt is made to hold his administration accountable for its violent policies.

Conservatives Outspend Liberals Two to One in Midterms

Conservatives spent twice as much as liberals on the 2010 election, according to USA Today. Conservatives spent $187 million on the election, up from 19.6 million in the 2006 midterm elections. Republicans took this financial support and gained seats in the Senate and won the majority in the House of Representatives.

Iowans Remove Pro-Gay Marriage Judges

Iowa voters this week removed three state Supreme Court judges who supported a unanimous ruling that struck down anti-gay marriage legislation and effectively legalized gay marriage in the state, according to The New York Times. Iowans voted out all three judges up for re-election, and experts say the vote could intimidate judges into heeding public opinion. Outside conservative groups like the American Family Association poured money into the removal campaign.

Florida AIDS Patients Lose Support

The Florida health department will stop paying for drugs to treat 350 uninsured HIV/AIDS patients due to state budget cuts, according to HIV Plus. An additional 2,000 patients could lose their drug subsidies if the state cannot close a $16 million budget shortfall. Florida has one of the nation’s highest rates of new AIDS cases, and in June President Obama gave the state $25 million to fight the spread of HIV. The news from Florida comes as HIV/AIDS advocates raise concerns that the now Republican-controlled House of Representatives might ignore important HIV/AIDS initiatives, according to the Advocate.