Animal ICU lab set up
A new laboratory to study animals after they undergo gene transfer and cloning operations has been established by the staff of the Livestock Research Institute (LRI) under the Council of Agriculture, government sources said yesterday. The new lab in Tainan County -- named the Molecular Research Ranch for Gene-modified Animals -- serves as an "intensive care unit" for livestock or poultry that has been genetically modified in other labs, LRI researchers said. Animals undergoing genetic modification require intensive care to preserve the intended genetic expressions, as well as to protect them from disease, mutation, or contamination, they said, adding that most local livestock research labs lack such facilities. LRI will continue expanding the lab's equipment and refining its standard operating procedures to earn accreditation from the International Organization for Standardization, they said.
Base station law planned
Tainan Mayor Hsu Tain-tsair (許添財) yesterday instructed city government officials to draft regulations requiring residents' approval before wireless network base stations can be set up in their neighborhoods. Although there is no clear evidence that electromagnetic waves are a health hazard, most people do not like to live in the vicinity of a cellphone base station or other types of transmission stations. Given increasing protests against such base stations, some entrepreneurs had tried to hide and disguise base stations set up in neighborhoods, triggering panic when they were discovered. To address these concerns, Hsu called for drafting the regulations -- applicable only in Tainan City -- to allow residents to decide. Hsu also called for a more efficient means of managing the establishment of base stations.
Whale shark sales banned
Sales of whale shark, the largest living fish species, will be banned starting today, an executive of the fishermen's association of Suao Township (蘇澳) in Ilan County said yesterday. The Council of Agriculture stipulated a catch quota of 30 whale sharks for this year. When that quota was reached in March, the council declared on March 27 that no further fishing would be allowed to target the giant fish -- known locally as the "Tofu shark" for its tender and white meat. It also demanded that the catches be sold within three months. The whale shark is not listed as an endangered species in Taiwan, but is listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) signed in 1973 in Washington to slow down species extinction. Out of respect for the international convention, Taiwan has set catch quotas to control the take of whale sharks.
Bike for the record
France-based mineral water firm Volvic is inviting the public to take part in a bike ride on July 21 aimed at promoting environmental protection and breaking a Guinness world record. Calling on the public to join the exercise, the company hopes to break the world record of 641 bikers riding at the same time for 3.5km in the Netherlands last year. The activity will start and end at the Tachia Riverside Park in Keelung. Participants who join the 16km ride will get a free T-shirt. They may also win other gifts offered by the organizer, including a trip to France.
Foreign lizards not welcome
Chiayi County agriculture officials yesterday issued an order to eliminate all brown anoles -- a lizard species native to Cuba and the Bahamas -- because they have been propagating so rapidly that they now pose a threat to indigenous species. Tseng Yung-hua (曾永華), head of the county's agriculture bureau, urged residents to report sightings of the lizard to the authorities so that action can be taken to catch them. Tseng said that results of an initial study showed that the brown anole probably carries parasites and that their presence could impact on the local environment. The brown anole, or Anolis sagrei, was first discovered in Chiayi County seven years ago. But large numbers of the lizards have been sighted in orchards, betel palm plantations and rural neighborhoods recently. An estimate by agricultural experts puts the number of brown anoles in Chiayi County at more than 10,000.
Al Gore visit postponed
Former US vice president Al Gore will not be able to make it to Taiwan this September to address the issue of global warming, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said yesterday. Tien, who invited Gore to visit Taiwan to promote awareness on global warming, told reporters yesterday that she received an e-mail from the Harry Walker Agency, which has the exclusive right to arrange Gore's speeches, saying that Gore had canceled all his scheduled events in the next six months. The visit to Taiwan had been postponed to next year, she added. Tien said the reason for the cancelation was that Gore was considering a presidential bid.
PAST CATCHING UP: Raphael Lin was last year convicted of intimidating his girlfriend at the time, and in 2015 allegedly confined his parents and assaulted his mother Doctoral student and media commentator Raphael Lin (林秉樞) is in detention and has had his communication rights limited after he was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly subjecting Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Kao Chia-yu (高嘉瑜) to two days of violence in a hotel room, the New Taipei District Court said yesterday. The New Taipei City Prosecutors’ Office had filed a request to detain Lin — who was Kao’s boyfriend at the time of the incident — with the court approving the request early yesterday. The prosecutors’ office said that it is likely to charge Lin with seven offenses: assault causing bodily harm, violating
NBA player Enes Kanter Freedom has taken to social media to urge Jeremy Lin (林書豪) to “stand with Taiwan” and stop taking “dirty Chinese Communist Party money.” “Haven’t you had enough of that Dirty Chinese Communist Party money feeding you to stay silent?” Freedom wrote on Facebook and Twitter on Sunday. The 29-year-old Boston Celtics center, who took a new surname when he became a US citizen on Monday last week, urged Lin: “Stand with Taiwan! Stop bowing to money & the Dictatorship.” Lin, a US citizen of Taiwanese descent who last year obtained a Taiwanese passport, has not responded to Freedom. Lin is
A COVID-19 vaccine trial carried out in Taiwan has found that a combination of the AstraZeneca and the locally developed Medigen vaccines is more effective than two doses of AstraZeneca, the research team said on Saturday. The trial, which was initiated by Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, examined 100 people aged 22 to 62 divided into two groups: One group was vaccinated with two AstraZeneca doses, while the other received a first dose of AstraZeneca and a second dose of Medigen, team leader Chen Chih-jung (陳志榮) said. The geometric mean titers (GMTs) of neutralizing antibodies in the mix-and-match group after 10 days were
Toads are a symbol of prosperity and good fortune in Taiwan, but the unexpected discovery of an invasive species has officials and environmentalists scrambling to contain their spread. With flashlights in hand and shielded by protective gloves, dozens of volunteers from the Taiwan Amphibian Conservation Society worked through the night searching rice fields and vegetable plots for their quarry — the cane toad. There should be no reason for these large and highly toxic amphibians to exist in Caotun (草屯), a township in the foothills of the central mountain range. Cane toads are indigenous to South and Central America, and while they have