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Is Monsanto Ready to Enter The Medical Marijuana War?

daily alternative | alternative news - Is Monsanto Ready to Enter The Medical Marijuana War?

As legally allowed medical marijuana becomes more widespread, it is no surprise that many are realizing there is legal money to be made off of this traditionally illegal cash crop. Even Illinois has adapted medical marijuana laws, and soon it will be legal to buy weed in Chicago as long as you have a prescription. With so many dollar signs hanging in the air, ready to be snatched, it is no surprise to see agriculture giant Monsanto getting poised to jump into selling genetically modified marijuana as well.

Monsanto and the Medical Marijuana War

As the largest producer of GMO plants, moving into medical marijuana may seem a logical next step for the agriculture giant. US labs already use strains of genetically modified cannabis for testing and research, and the growing demand for legally obtained medical marijuana is sure to spike in the near future. It looks like Monsanto is already ahead of the game due to their research into RNA interference.

The company is investing millions of dollars into this new technology dubbed “RNAi.” With RNAi, it is possible to manipulate everything from the color of the plant to making the plant indigestible to insects. With medical marijuana, RNAi could be used to create larger, more potent plants effectively cornering the market and exceeding the legal demand for the plant. In Canada, this scenario is one step closer to becoming reality due to new laws that will allow large-scale growers to distribute their plants via mail order. The genetically manipulated marijuana may reach consumers sooner than thought possible due to these changes.

While the company maintains that its products are safe for human consumption, it has been widely debated that this isn’t truly the case. While moving into medical marijuana may be a winning move for Monsanto stockholders, it may also be a strong case of “buyer beware” for the end consumers of the product.

 

daily alternative | alternative news – Is Monsanto Ready to Enter The Medical Marijuana War?

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Health & Science

Google Now Has Access To Millions of Patients’ Medical Records

A controversial deal between tech giant Google and the National Health Service (NHS) will allow artificial intelligence units access to 1.6 million confidential medical records. Since 2014, Google has partnered with several scientists in an attempt to understand human health, but a new report reveals the data gathering goes far beyond what was originally anticipated.

According to documents obtained by the New Scientist, the data sharing agreement between Google-owned artificial intelligence company DeepMind and the Royal Free NHS Trust gives access to the sensitive healthcare data of millions of NHS patients. The chilling and wide-reaching deal allows DeepMind access to the medical records of the 1.6 million people passing annually through the three London hospitals owned by the Trust — Barnet, Chase Farm, and the Royal Free.

The Google-owned A.I. firm announced in February it was working with the NHS to build an app called Streams — intended to help hospitals monitor patients with kidney disease. However, the new information has revealed that the extent of the data being shared goes much further and includes logs of day-to-day hospital activity, records of the location and status of patients, and even logs of who visits them and when.

Results of pathology and radiology tests are also shared, as is information from critical care and accident and emergency departments. In addition, DeepMind’s access to the centralised records of all NHS hospital treatments in the U.K. means the tech company can access historical data from the last five years, all while receiving a continuous stream of new data.

At the same time, DeepMind is developing a platform called Patient Rescue, which uses hospital data streams to build tools to carry out analysis and support diagnostic decisions. The New Scientist explained how it works:

Comparing a new patient’s information with millions of other cases, Patient Rescue might be able to predict that they are in the early stages of a disease that has not yet become symptomatic, for example. Doctors could then run tests to see if the prediction is correct.

While the Royal Free has not yet responded to the question of what — if any — opt-out mechanisms are available to patients, the New Scientist suggests this is unlikely to be a straightforward process. Despite the agreement stating Google cannot use the data in any other part of the company’s business, many will be seriously wary of the access the online tech giant now has to the confidential data of millions of people.

As the New Scientist wrote:

Data mining is the name of the game in the burgeoning field of machine learning and artificial intelligence, and there’s no company in the world better at that than Google.

 

daily alternative | alternative news – Google Now Has Access To Millions of Patients’ Medical Records

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