Posts tagged with "Brazil"

Latest buzz: Genetically modified mosquito startup raises $6.8 million in venture capital

April 26, 2021

Oxitec— a U.S.-owned startup with headquarters and R&D facilities in the U.K., just a few miles from Oxford University—has raised US$6.8 million in venture capital from the Wellcome Trust, one of the world’s largest chqritable foundations, Axios reports.

The company is generating buzz worldwide for its insect-based biological solutions for controlling pests that transmit disease, destroy crops, and harm livestock.

In its latest headline-making news, Oxitec will start releasing a total of 12,000 genetically modified,  non-biting male mosquitos from boxes into the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District to mate with the local biting female mosquitoes over  a period of 12 weeks.

The female offspring of these encounters cannot survive, the company says—making it possible to control the local population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The Aedes aegypti mosquito makes up about 4 percent of the mosquito population in the Florida Keys—but is responsible for virtually all mosquito-borne diseases transmitted to humans. This species of mosquito transmits dengue, Zika, yellow fever, and other human diseases; and can transmit heartworm and other potentially deadly diseases to pets and animals.

According to Axios, Oxitec is one of the world’s most controversial startup—even though everyone applauds its mission of reducing instances of mosquito-borne diseases.

Oxitec already has released more than a billion bugs, including in Brazil and the Cayman Islands—and, last year, the EPA and state officials approved field tests in the Florida Keys.

In the the Brazilian city of Indaiatuba, Oxitec’s genetically modified mosquito suppressed disease-carrying Aedes aegypti by up to 95%* in urban, dengue-prone environments following just 13 weeks of treatment, as compared to untreated control sites in the same city.

It’s a novel solution to human disease spread—particularly where native mosquitoes are increasingly resistant to insecticides—but many locals are concerned about how this will impact the broader ecosystem.

Research contact: @axios

Biden to reinstate the COVID travel restrictions Trump rescinded; impose new ban on South Africa

January 26, 2021

President Joe Biden plans to sign restrictions Monday on travel to the United States to mitigate COVID-19 transmission, a senior public health official confirmed on Sunday, January 24, to Reuters.

The ban would prevent most non-U.S. citizens from entry if they have recently been in South Africa, where a new strain of coronavirus has been identified. The virus has killed more than 418,000 people and infected upward of 25 million nationwide in the United States., according to an NBC News tracker.

Biden is also expected to reinstate broader restrictions that were in effect much of the past year but were rescinded by President Donald Trump days before his term ended, NBC said. The limits would affect non-U.S. citizens traveling from the United Kingdom, Ireland, and much of Europe in what is known as the Schengen countries, which share a common visa process. Travelers from Brazil would also be affected.

Before Biden took office, incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki in a tweet criticized Trump’s decision to rescind the bans he had implemented.

“With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday that, beginning Tuesday, it will no longer consider exceptions to its requirement that international travelers present negative coronavirus tests. Airlines had asked the agency to relax the rule for some countries with limited testing capacity.

“As variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continue to emerge in countries around the world, there is growing evidence of increased transmissibility of some of these variants, as well as unknown health and vaccine implications,” a CDC spokesman said in a statement. “Testing before and after travel is a critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19 and emerging variants.”

Research contact: @NBCNews

Ford Foundation commits $50M to Global Fellows Network that will tackle inequality worldwide

June 2, 2020

The Ford Foundation has announced the launch of a ten-year Global Fellowship program, dedicated to identifying, connecting, and supporting the next generation of social justice leaders—who will devise and advance innovative solutions to end inequality in communities most affected around the globe.

Even before the alleged murder of George Floyd by Police Officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis—videotaped by a bystander and viewed by millions of Americans and foreign nationals—and the immediate coalescence of “Black Lives Matter” demonstrators in urban centers nationwide; the foundation notes, the COVID-19 pandemic had laid bare “the crisis of inequality and created new urgency to fix it.”

Over the next decade, the program will make a $50 million investment in a robust network of 240 global fellows. In a press release, the foundation describes the inaugural cohort of fellows as” …  24 promising global leaders who have demonstrated meaningful impact in their communities and are well-positioned to benefit from individualized global learning and leadership support.”

Indeed, yhe first group of Ford Global Fellows represents a broad range of backgrounds, fields, and approaches to addressing inequality—with areas of focus that range from restoring voting rights for formerly incarcerated people, to advancing LGBTQ+ rights, to increasing political and economic power of people with disabilities, and more.

Many are from directly impacted communities and emerged as leaders drawing from their own lived experience with the challenges of inequality, the foundation says. The cohort draws from four regions: Brazil, the United States, East Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa.

The Ford Global Fellowship program will be led by Adria Goodson, a recognized leader with a proven track record in the design and stewardship of fellowship programs. From 2005 to 2015, she was the founding director of Hunt Alternatives’ Prime Movers fellowship program, a program that supports social movement leaders in the United States. She has a PhD from Boston College in Sociology, specializing in social movement theory, public policy, and philanthropy; and before coming to Ford, was the chief program officer for the Pahara Institute, a nationally recognized non-profit that supports leaders reimagining public education.

“This fellowship will support visionaries in the fight against social, political, and economic inequality with the proven power of group learning,” said Ford Global Fellowship Program Director Adria Goodson. “These individuals lead unique efforts to create systemic change in their communities, but many of them have also taken action to immediately assist vulnerable communities hit hard by COVID-19. This group of leaders deserves immense credit, recognition, and support for their trailblazing work, and I look forward to working with each of them to assess and tackle unique challenges in their regions.”

The program curriculum, which focuses simultaneously on individualized and group learning, is being created in partnership with the Institute of International Education. The 24 Ford Global Fellows begin participation this week, with a multi-day virtual convening to launch the program.

Additional convenings will take place, either virtually or in various regions if safe and appropriate, over the course of the 18-month program. Each fellow will receive funding and resources to develop and pursue an Individualized Learning Plan to advance their own leadership development. They also each will receive a no-strings-attached $25,000 stipend.

In the coming years, future cohorts will be selected from all regions of the world, including seven additional regions where the Ford Foundation has a presence, including Mexico and Central America; the Andean region; West Africa; Southern Africa; India, Sri Lanka and Nepal; Indonesia; and China.

To learn more about the first cohort of Ford Global Fellows, please visit this link.

Research contact: @FordFoundation

Rude awakening: Find out the story behind this amazingly grumpy baby photo

February 27, 2020

They are calling it “the scowl seen ‘round the world.” A photo from Brazil has gone viral for catching the expression of a newborn baby girl who appears to angrily stare down the doctor who delivered her by C-section.

Photographer Rodrigo Kunstmann, who snapped the now-famous picture of Isabela Pereira de Jesus, said her family burst out laughing when he showed them the image.

“They were like, ‘This could be an internet meme!’” Kunstmann, 32, told TODAY Parents on NBC-TV in the United States through a translator. “Everybody thought it was funny.”

But don’t be fooled by Isabela’s expression. Kunstmann has been in touch with her parents and they insist she has an easy, gentle disposition.

“She’s very sweet,” Kunstmann revealed. “The picture was just a moment.”

Still, it’s fun to imagine what was going through Isabela’s mind when she made her entrance into the world.

“Do NOT disturb my sleep for this! Lol,” wrote one person on Kunstmann’s Facebook page.

Added another, “She’s mad at the Dr. for taking her from her warm and dark and peaceful world into a bright room with a lot of people awing over her.”

“I remember when I first laid eyes on her after her birth, that was the face she was making,” Musa’s mom, Justine Tuhy, previously told TODAY Parents. “She was born via C-section at 41 weeks, so we assume she is annoyed she was evicted.”

Research contact: @TODAYshow