Bits and Pieces

Bits and pieces of stories in the news in 1980, including a method of manufacturing Interferon developed by Biogen S.A., the negligable share of government aid that goes to small farms, the side effects of Depo-Provera, and more.


| March/April 1980


DANGEROUS DOCTORS? Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Illinois, contends that we'd be better off if 95% of the doctoring (not just surgery) in this country were to stop! Furthermore, he supports his claim with statistics which show that the death rate declines during doctors' strikes, then goes back to its "normal" level when the physicians return to work.

WORK-A-LONG: If you have an office skill and are feeling nomadic, Olsten Temporary Services can provide a fee-paid job (and, if you're interested, accommodations) in each city along your route.

A POTENTIAL CANCER FIGHTER: Biogen S.A., a Swiss firm, has announced the development of recombinant DNA technology which would enable Interferon—a naturally occurring human protein that's shown great promise as a cancer cure—to be economically manufactured by genetically altered bacteria. (The drug is currently extracted from human white blood cells . . . and is produced in such minute quantities that a pound would cost an astronomical $22 billion!)

BIG GOVERNMENT/ BIG FARMS: A Congressional Family Farm Task Force, organized to redirect federal policy away from large-scale factory farming, reports that the 70% of what are considered "small" farms benefit from only 5% of USDA extension activities . . . while 80% of total farm assistance payments go to just 17% of all agricultural operations.

 "FRIENDLY FIRE"? Years ago, while the movie The Conquerors was being made in St. George, Utah, radioactive fallout from a Nevada atomic test blanketed the town. Later, stars Susan Hayward, John Wayne, Dick Powell, Agnes Moorhead, and Pedro Armendaris—plus the movie's art director, production manager, and wardrobe mistress—all contracted cancer . . . perhaps as a result of their exposure to the radioactivity.

THE OLD-FASHIONED CATTLE DRIVE is making a comeback, and—even though the animals "walk off" weight when moved in such a way—apparently transportation costs are now up enough to make the poundage loss easier to take than the hauling charges would be.





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