Tuesday, January 29, 2013


In addition to its uses in folk medicine (e.g., to treat depression), Saint John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) has long been hung in houses to ward off evil spirits.  Now, this plant itself is being portrayed as bad, at least for one's health.  Pharmacists Planning Service, Inc. has filed a petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") to switch the Wort's regulated status "from herbal Dietary Supplement to behind pharmacy counter status (BPCS)."  This pharmacists' group suggest that Saint John's Wort "can cause trouble sleeping, vivid dreams, restlessness, anxiety, irritability, stomach upset, fatigue, dry mouth, dizziness, headache, skin rash, diarrhea, and tingling."  Inconveniently, from the perspective of mnemonics alone, what this plant apparently fails to cause is warts.

Monday, January 28, 2013

An Achilles Heel Of Climate Change

January 28th in the U.S. Midwest is cold.  The ground is often covered in snow.  Birds huddle for warmth against the wintry wind.  People wrap themselves in thick clothes and boots, comforting themselves that spring will arrive less than two months hence.

However, January 28, 2013, in the Midwest was warm.  The sun shone.  The birds sang spring songs.  Trees almost looked as if they were going to bud.  People wore shorts, t-shirts, and running shoes.  Almost everyone enjoyed the weird warm weather.

Frequent storms, droughts, and ferocious forest fires may be harbingers of even greater global climate change to come.  These events frighten people, and spur them to condemn the causes of climate change.  On the other hand, beautiful summer days in January make climate change seem benign - even desirable.  Opponents of climate change might have difficulty getting others to agree with them on a day as clement as today.  This could be a serious barrier to achieving political action on climate change.  Perhaps people will contemplate this conundrum as they picnic on the grass.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Industria Mori

Kevin Noonan, an exceptionally talented biotechnology patent attorney, has written a fascinating article on Patent Docs, the premier biotechnology patent blog, suggesting that Myriad Genetics might fall on its sword to save the rest of its industry from a damaging Supreme Court opinion.  Here is his conclusion:
[T]he question must be asked whether the prudent thing for Myriad to do is grant Dr. Ostrer a covenant not to sue on all the patents and claims involved in this litigation.  The result would be to render the issues before the Court moot;  regardless of the perceived importance of the Question Presented, even the Supreme Court is limited by Article III of the Constitution and cannot render an advisory opinion on this issue.  Such an action by Myriad would not only prevent this case from being decided, it would preclude the Court from including in its opinion dicta on the patent eligibility of isolated DNA from other species (which may have importance in fields like agriculture or biofuels) or other "products of nature" that may provide the basis for biologic and other types of drugs.  In view of the seemingly complete lack of any practical reason for having the Supreme Court decide this issue, and the risks to the progress provided for a generation by the biotechnology industry, nothing other than a desire to be vindicated remains to support seeing this case through to its conclusion.  Frankly, in view of what is at stake, such vindication is simply not enough.
As usual, Noonan has thought well ahead of the crowd.  Myriad is unlikely to take his advice, but it and its industry may regret the result.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Prize Pythons

The Burmese Python (Python molurus bivittatus) are gigantic snakes native to Asia, ranging from Pakistan to China to Indonesia.  Probably released into the wild by pet owners in Florida, Burmese Pythons have become important invasives of the Everglades, where their viable breeding populations are exploding.  Capable of reaching 6 meters in length, in their adoptive Florida these snakes have been know to capture and ingest even prey as large the American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) and White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus).  Government programs to eradicate the invasive Python have failed thus far.  So, as reported in the New York Times on January 24, 2013, the Wildlife Foundation of Florida is sponsoring the 2013 Python Challenge, which offers training for aspiring participants, as well as two $1,500 Grand Prizes for the most Pythons captured, and two $1,000 prizes for the longest Pythons captured.  The Challenge runs from January 12 to February 10, 2013.  However, the Everglades cover a vast area, and Burmese Pythons have proven to be prodigiously-fertile invasives.  Consider one lesson from that font of wisdom, Escape from New York:
Brain:  I swear to God, Snake, I thought you were dead.
Snake Plissken:  Yeah.  You and everybody else.
Like Snake Plisskin, Burmese Pythons may be impossible to manage, let alone to eradicate.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2X > 1X

More than four centuries ago, in The Winter's Tale, William Shakespeare facetiously recognized equality between the genders:
A lady's verily is
As potent as a lord's.
 Over the last century, women have repeatedly proven their mettle across the spectrum of careers available to them.  Until now, military combat has been one of the last redoubts of men.  On January 23, 2013, while female Secretary of StateHillary Clinton fiercely fought her corner before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the massacre at the United States Consulate in Benghazi, Libya , the U.S.military announced that it would henceforth welcome women into combat roles.  The specific rules of female military engagement remain to be formulated.  In fact, depending on the details of these rules, women could still be effectively excluded from battlefield roles.  Nevertheless, people blessed with two X chromosomes have repeatedly demonstrated that, given half a chance, they can not only match, but often exceed, people possessing a depauperate single X chromosome.  Fields once completely dominated by men, such as medicine (both human and animal), pharmacy, biology, and law have yielded rapidly to female participation, and, often, domination.  Pity the poor Y chromosome;  when double-teamed by two X chromosomes, competition can be fierce.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Obama Warms To Climate Change

On January 14, 2013, Barack Obama was reinaugurated as President of the United States of America.  In his speech, aimed as much at posterity and those who will write the history books as it was at those who heard it, President Obama addressed the usual topics of gravitas, such as poverty, education, human rights, and the economy.  However, he gave surprising pride of place, between social programs and war, to climate change, pledging his administration to this politically - but not scientifically - contentious issue:
We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity.  We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.  Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.  The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.  We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise.  That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks.  That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.  That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.
Obama was hot on the trail of climate change, warmed to his hot button topic, and struck while the iron was hot.  It would be cold comfort if, through inaction, his speech merely amounted to hot air.  So, cooler minds must prevail if climate change is to be stopped cold.          

Monday, January 21, 2013

Biodiversity Law In Paradise (1/21/2013)

Green Iguana Reclining By The Ocean
The Biodiversity Law class finished up its visit to the Virgin Islands with a hike through the Nature Conservancy lands behind Magen's Bay.  As private biodiversity conservation efforts have become more significant, biodiversity law has evolved to provide new legal mechanisms to ensure that organisms and the ecological communities that contain them survive.  Clever legal tools, such as conservation easements, adapt existing law to new purposes, achieving more conservation per amount of money.  After exploring hillside rainforest, coastal mangrove swamp, beach, and coral reef, the class visited a local agricultural fair, where the economic products of both wild and domestic biodiversity were sold.  As the day came to an end, so did the 2013 Biodiversity Law fieldtrip.  Now, each student will begin work on a major research paper about a topic of biodiversity law inspired by their fieldtrip in the Virgin Islands.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Biodiversity Law In Paradise (1/18/2013)

Up well before dawn, the class sped to Red Hook, on the east end of Saint Thomas, to catch the first ferry to the island of Saint John.  Our destination was Reef Bay Trail in the center of the Virgin Islands National Park, which is one of the premier nature reserves in the Caribbean.  The day began with rain, but gradually cleared.  By the time we reached the trailhead, and began our steep descent, the tropical sun was beaming down on us with full force.

The class immediately noticed a forest community distinct from any of the other sites they had visited in the U.S. or British Virgin Islands.  There were large, mature trees (e.g., Bay Rum, Genip, Turpentine, Kapok) and a continuous canopy of leaves that allowed little sun to reach the ground.  Predictably, the plants that grow on the ground disproportionately have gigantic leaves, useful for absorbing any sunlight not blocked by the canopy.  The diversity of organisms adjacent to the trail is stunning, especially compared to other locations visited earlier this week, including Jost van Dyke, Sandy Cay, Saint Thomas, and even the unprotected portions of Saint John.

Several times, the class was surprised to notice rapid ecological transitions over the space of several meters, with marked changes in humidity, sunlight penetration, and diversity of vegetation.  Equally remarkable was the relative abundance of standing fresh water, a rare and valuable resource throughout the Virgin Islands.

Our hike added several organisms to our running tally of species richness.  These include Blue Crabs, bats, Brown Rats, tiny tree frogs, and Anolis pulchellus, cristatellus, and occultus.  The rats were especially exciting because, at first glance, they appeared to be hutias, the native rodent of the the Virgin Islands.

Now that the class has visited dry sclerophyll forest, seasonally wet rainforest, heavily disturbed areas, and relatively pristine areas, it has begun to compare and contrast these ecosystems.  The rainforest protected within the V.I. National Park is highly biodiverse compared with the other ecosystems we have visited.  It demands rigorous protection within the National Park system, and, we hope, this is what it will continue to receive, even as the Park Service's budget continues its starvation diet and demands for uses of the land other than conservation mount.

Biodiversity law contributes several key tools for the conservation of highly biodiverse areas such as the rainforested watershed of Reef Bay.  Here are a few examples.  The federal Endangered Species Act ("ESA") may mandate that critical habitat for a species be protected from development and that no one may "take" or harrass members of that species.  The National Environmental Planning Act ("NEPA") may force those hoping to develop in a biodiverse area to consider the impacts of such action, as well as to contemplate what alternative actions might be available.  And, the legal frameworks that creates and protects national parks and national marine monuments explicitly set aside sizable terrestrial and marine areas for their natural beauty and the biodiversity they contain, and marry these laudable goals with strong enforcement efforts.  The class jumped at the chance to explore the results of these biodiversity law.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Biodiversity Law In Paradise (1/17/2013)

John Rubattino And The Class
Today, we spent much of the morning and early afternoon in lectures on species, phylogeny, and biogeography, and the relationship between biodiversity science and the making of sound policy and law.

Next, we had a visit from John Rubattino, the president of the Caribbean Oceanic Restoration and Education ("CORE") Foundation, who gave a passionate presentation about the invasive Red Lion Fish and its relentless spread throughout the Caribbean.  This invasive fish has been devouring its way through coral reef after coral reef, denuding them of any small fish they can catch.  According to John, a single Red Lion Fish can eat dozens of important coral reef fish every day, and females can lay thousands of eggs every few days.  Since their arrival in the Virgin Islands, the effect has been devastating.  In addition to providing education about this damaging invasive, another major purpose of CORE is the eradication of Red Lion Fish via spearfishing.  It's too early to know whether CORE's efforts will succeed, but, if no solution is found the Virgin Island coral reefs, as well as those throughout the Caribbean, could soon become ghost reefs.

We finished out the day by visiting Virgin Islands attorney par excellence, Jeffrey Weiss.  Jeff has been instrumental in some of the most significant Virgin Islands biodiversity litigations of the past several decades.  He illustrated the importance of sound biodiversity laws coupled with skilled lawyering by telling the class about long litigation battle to save the Virgin Islands Tree Boa.  If only biodiversity had more heroic advocates like John and Jeff to protect it, conservation would be much more effective.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Biodiversity Law In Paradise (1/16/2013)

A Moray Eel Next To Sea Urchins
This morning we drove to the farthest West end of Saint Thomas to explore Botany Bay, which is the last large tract of pristine rainforest on the island.  It was raining as we arrived, the tide was high, and we witnessed waves from the Caribbean and Atlantic clashing with each other over the isthmus that connects Saint Thomas proper with Little Saint Thomas island.  We surveyed the biodiversity present on the beach, and identified hard and soft corals, limpets, conchs, ghost crabs, sponges, sea urchins, calcareous algae, and a Brown Booby (dead, sadly).  On Little Saint Thomas, we spotted what we believe were mongoose tracks, a finding that may help explain why this Nature Conservancy sanctuary lacks the nesting seabirds found in abundance on nearby islands.  We also explored tide pools, sea grape thickets, and spectacular metamorphic rock outcroppings, where we found myriad juvenile fish, multicolored snails, and a curious lack of algae.
Hybrid Staghorn/Elkhorn Coral
After lunch sur la plage, and a lecture on the origins, magnitude, measurement, and importance to humans of biodiversity, we suited up in our snorkeling gear to venture into Mermaid's Chair Bay.  Once in the water, we saw a beautiful moray eel, blue tang, ocean surgeon fish, bluehead, parrot fish, yellow jacks, damsel fish, trunk fish, squirrel fish, a juvenile shark, lots of fan and brain coral, sponges, large sea urchins, fire coral, the occasional endangered staghorn and elkhorn coral, and even a rare staghorn/elkhorn coral hybrid.  Towards the end of our snorkel, we happened upon a medium-sized shark, which glided off into deeper water.  We left Botany Bay just as the sun set, exhausted, but delighted to have seen so much fascinating biodiversity in this unique corner of Saint Thomas.  Acknowledge that, as Jeff B. James would say.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Biodiversity Law In Paradise (1/15/2013)

The Biodiversity Law class began its first full day in the Virgin Islands with a voyage across the channel from the United States Virgin Islands to Jost van Dyke, a small, but beautiful part of the British Virgin Islands.  After clearing British immigration, we met Sir Foxy Callwood, the founder of the Jost van Dyke Preservation Society, and Susan Zaluski, who has heroically led the Society for the last six years.  Foxy and Susan share with the class their insights in how to establish national parks and marine protected areas, monitor seabird breeding islands, including some of the largest in the world, eradicate destruction invasive species, such as mongoose, rats, cats, and goats, and protect endangered species, such as sea turtles and the Virgin Islands Tree Boa.  A highlight of the day was anchoring off Sandy Cay (a perfect tropical island that was formerly Laurance Rockefeller), swimming to its beach, and then hiking throughout the entire island, which is rapidly reestablishing its natural character after the Society eradicated all its invasive rats.

Tomorrow the class heads to Botany Bay, the most biodiverse part of Saint Thomas, to hike its rainforests and snorkel its healthy coral reefs.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Biodiversity Law In Paradise (1/14/2013)

Throughout the next week, Lexvivo will publish dispatches from the Virgin Islands (U.S. and British) about biodiversity law, which has become one of the most dynamic, fascinating, and important branches of the law.  This is the 12th time I will have taught Biodiversity Law in the Virgin Islands, where tropical rainforests meet coral reefs, and the area teems not only with Darwin's "endless forms [of life] most beautiful and most wonderful," but also with the full panoply of legal issues surrounding biological diversity.  Stay tuned.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Physican, Inform Thyself!

In United States v. Alfred Caronia, the influential United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit considered whether promotion, by a pharmaceutical sales representative, of a medicinal drug for medical indications not approved by the Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") could qualify as free speech protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  On November 30, 2011, in a jury trial in the federal court of the Eastern District of New York,
Caronia was found guilty of conspiracy to introduce a misbranded drug into interstate commerce, a misdemeanor violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 331(a) and 333(a)(1).  Specifically, Caronia, a pharmaceutical sales representative, promoted the drug Xyrem [a potent depressant of the central nervous system] for "off-label use," that is, for a purpose not approved by the [FDA].
Two of three judges on a panel of the Second Circuit disagreed, vacating Caronia' conviction, and remanding the case to the district court.  On December 3, 2012, the majority
conclude[d] simply that the government cannot prosecute pharmaceutical manufacturers and their representatives under the FDCA [Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act] for speech promoting the lawful, off-label use of an FDA-approved drug.
This important decision appears to augment physicians' right to prescribe drugs to patients for off-label uses by further allowing physicians access to truthful information from pharmaceutical companies about known off-label uses of those drugs.

A judicial decision of such significance to physicians, patients, and pharmaceutical companies may attract the attention of the U.S. Supreme Court.  In the meantime, a wider horizon beckons for off-label uses of medicines.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Lexvivo Predicts The Oscars

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences ("AMPAS") announced the Oscar nominees early in the morning on January 10, 2013.  This year has brought a bumper crop of films relevant to Lexvivo and its favorite themes involving genes, demes, and memes.
Amour (health)
Argo (culture and war)
Beasts of the Southern Wild (natural disasters, climate change, and extinction)
Brave (parent-offspring conflict, biodiversity, culture, and war)
Django Unchained (slavery and violence)
Frankenweenie (bioengineering)
Les Misérables (inequality and war)
Life of Pi (biodiversity)
Lincoln (slavery and war)
Paranorman (the supernatural)
The Pirates!  Band of misfits (Charles Darwin, extinction, and war)
Silver Linings Playbook (mental health)
Wreck-It Ralph (nutrition, video games, and violence)
Zero Dark Thirty (culture and war)
If these categories provide any indication, a good bet to win a best picture Oscar would be a movie about war or culture (or both).  This is also a strong year for films with French or mathematical titles.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Shoes Without A Suit

The United States Supreme Court announced its decision in Already LLC v. Nike, Inc. on January 9, 2013.  The Court forbade Already (a shoemaker better known as "YUMS") from suing Nike (another shoemaker) because Nike had given Already a covenant not to sue for infringement of the trademark "Air Force 1."  Already alleged that it was planning to make shoes that would use that mark, but Chief Justice Roberts seemed dubious, writing, "If such a shoe exists, it sits, as far as we can tell, on a shelf between Dorothy’s ruby slippers and Perseus’s winged sandals."  Since the decision allows Nike to continue selling their popular and lucrative Air Force 1's, it may have a sole-crushing effect on Already.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bringing The Heat

The National Climatic Data Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ("NOAA") published its "2012 State of the Climate" report on January 8, 2013.  To summarize:  "2012 was the warmest and second most extreme year on record for the continuous U.S.."  This included the warmest spring and the fourth warmest winter on record.  The mean temperature for 2012 was a full 1.0 degree Fahrenheit higher than the previous record holder, 1998.  In addition, 2012 was the 15th driest and second most extreme (e.g., Hurricanes Sandy and Isaac) ever measured.  It was clearly kismet that the Miami Heat would win the NBA championship.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Demography Is Bankruptcy

In their January 5, 2013, article, "Social Security:  It's Worse Than You Think," in the Sunday New York Times, Gary King and Samir Soneji predict, among other things, that Social Security will run out of money in 2031, three years prior to the federal government's estimate.  Furthermore, King and Soneji point out how inaccurate many of the financial models relied upon by the Social Security Administration really are.  Here, and in more depth in their article, "Statistical Security for Social Security," published in the August 2012 issue of the journal Demography, the authors raise numerous alarms about how wobbly the mathematics are that undergird the future financial well-being of millions of Americans.  If demography is destiny, the mathematics of Social Security suggests that the Baby Boomers may become the Skint Seniors.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Mark Lynas Recants On GM Agriculture

Some things never change.  However, many things do.  Sometimes, even the strongest of opinions can reverse direction.  Consider opposition to genetically-modified ("GM") crops and livestock.  Mark Lynas has long been one of the most eloquent and prominent opponents of GM agriculture.  In fact, he was a primary architect of widespread anti-GM public opinion in Europe.  On January 3, 2012, during an address at the 2013 Oxford Farming Conference, Lynas recounted how he achieved this:
When I first heard about Monsanto’s GM soya I knew exactly what I thought. Here was a big American corporation with a nasty track record, putting something new and experimental into our food without telling us. Mixing genes between species seemed to be about as unnatural as you can get – here was humankind acquiring too much technological power; something was bound to go horribly wrong. These genes would spread like some kind of living pollution. It was the stuff of nightmares.

These fears spread like wildfire, and within a few years GM was essentially banned in Europe, and our worries were exported by NGOs like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth to Africa, India and the rest of Asia, where GM is still banned today. This was the most successful campaign I have ever been involved with.
 Remarkably, Lynas then apologized for this very success, and publicly embraced GM agriculture, in the process portraying vilifying anti-GM environmentalists:
For the record, here and upfront, I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment...
This was also explicitly an anti-science movement. We employed a lot of imagery about scientists in their labs cackling demonically as they tinkered with the very building blocks of life. Hence the Frankenstein food tag – this absolutely was about deep-seated fears of scientific powers being used secretly for unnatural ends. What we didn’t realise at the time was that the real Frankenstein’s monster was not GM technology, but our reaction against it.
Lynas is now treading a path of conversion blazed before him by the "Skeptical Environmentalist," Bjorn Lomborg, a man whose face Lynas once festooned with a cream pie.  Like Lomborg, Lynas will surely be demonized by many of his previous comrades as an apostate guilty of ideological treason.

I have long been fascinated by attitudes towards GM agriculture.  In "Intellectual Property as the Third Dimension of GMO Regulation" (available free here), I analyzed the ironic tension between opposition to GM agriculture and opposition to patents claiming GM crops and livestock.  More recently, in "Planted Obsolescence:  Synagriculture and the Law" (available free here), I suggested that "synagriculture" (that is, agriculture based on a framework of open synthetic biology) is likely to transform agriculture by democratizing access to powerful biotechnological methods and materials capable of engineering miraculous new varieties of agricultural organisms and techniques.

As opponents and proponents battle for the soul of agricultural progress, and GM agriculture continues its worldwide march towards technological dominance, food and other products from farming remain as important as ever.  As Milton had Eve exhort in Book IX of Paradise Lost, "Adam, well may we labour, still to dress/ This garden, still to tend plant, herb, and flower."

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Smiert Programmy Spionem!

Buried in the hyperbole surrounding the fiscal cliff, on December 28, 2012, President Barack Obama signed into law the Trade Secrets Clarification Act of 2012.  The "TSCA" amended 18 U.S.C. §1832(a) (part of the Economic Espionage Act ("EEA")) in response to a federal appeals court decision in U.S. v. Aleynikov (2nd Cir. 2012), reversing a jury verdict that had found Sergey Aleynikov, a software programmer at Goldman Sachs, guilty of stealing source code from his employer.  Had the Second Circuit Court of Appeals not overturned the lower court decision, which had found Aleynikov guilty of violating both the National Stolen Property Act ("NSPA") and the EEA, the coder could have spent more than eight years in federal prison.  Instead, the appeals court ruled that software code is not equivalent to physical property susceptible of theft under the NSPA, nor was the specific code taken my Aleynikov "included in a product that is produced for or placed in" interstate or international commerce.  The TSCA is an attempt to remove the latter loophole by changing "included in a product that is produced for or placed in" into "a product or service used in or intended for use in".  Software spies beware!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

From Fiscal Cliff To Asset Ascent

Farewell to a metaphor megameme:  the fiscal cliff.  Even though the U.S. economy did fall ever so briefly into this monetary moat, the subsequent lucre launch carried stock markets to record heights.  Expect the fiscal cliff meme to decline precipitously.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The 2012 Lexvivo Top Ten

A torrent of stories about genes, demes, and memes carved deep channels into 2012.  Selecting only ten to feature has been challenging.  However, choices must be made.  Here is the Lexvivo top ten for 2012:
(1)  Thar Sandy Blows! - Hurricane Sandy was a natural disaster for North America, born of stochasticity, climate change, and foolhardy policies (see (5)).
(2)  Myriad Answers - In AMA v. Myriad, he United States Supreme Court will decide the following question:  "Are human genes patentable?"
(3)  As Hot As...Earth! - Droughts, fires, and melting Arctic and Antarctic icecaps all accompanied the warmest year since the advent of accurate global temperature measurements.
(4)  Prometheus Fired - In Mayo v. Prometheus, the U.S. Supreme Court limited the patentability of inventions related to diagnosing and treating human beings
(5)  Thar Bopha Blows! - Typhoon Bopha was a natural disaster for Asia, born of stochasticity, climate change, and foolhardy policies (see (1)).
(6)  The Reign of Pterois - The Red Lionfish (P. volitans) continued its spread throughout the coral reefs of the Caribbean, devastating native reef fish and the ecosystems to which they are intrinsic.
(7)  Are Patents A Hill Of Beans? - In Bowman v. Monsanto, he U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether or not the sale of seeds exhausts patent rights in inventions capable of self-replication, such as soybean plants Monsanto genetically-modified to be glyphosate-resistant.
(8)  Tighter Genes - The U.S. Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues issued a report that warned of, and offered recommendations to minimize, the great risks to privacy that accompany whole-genome sequencing.
(9)  Cultural Bridge of Psy's - K-Pop star, Psy, conquered YouTube with his music video and rampant meme, Gangnam Style, showing that even hegemonic American culture can be emulated, improved, and exported back to the United States.
(10)  Chimp Change - The U.S. National Institutes of Health allowed 110 chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) used in medical research to "retire," sending a strong signal that such uses of chimpanzees and other animals may be fundamentally reevaluated.
Naturally, 2013 promises to be another great year in genes, demes, and memes, so stay tuned to Lexvivo.