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Information is power. Our mission at Portside is to seek out and to provide information that empowers you -- that empowers the left. Every day we search hundreds of sources to connect you with the most interesting, striking and useful material. Just once a year we appeal to you to contribute to make it possible to continue this work. Please help.


Consumer DNA Testing May Be the Biggest Health Scam of the Decade

Ed Cara Gizmodo
DNA strand graphphic At the start of this decade, the federal government identified consumer DNA testing as a burgeoning scam industry. Nonetheless, according to MIT Technology Review more than 26 million people have had their DNA tested. The scam is mainstream now.

A DNA Glimpse of an Egnimatic Human Relative

Maya Wei-Haas National Geographic
For nearly a decade, researchers have puzzled over what the Denisovans looked like. Now, we have our best model yet of the species' skeleton.

What Percent Virus Are You?

Hannah Moots FiveThirtyEight
With advances in genome sequencing and computational tools to analyze genomic information, researchers are able to estimate that about 8 percent of the human genome is made of sequences that originated as invasive retroviruses. To put that number in perspective, genes make up about 1 percent to 1.5 percent of your genome.


DNA Tests May Shed New Light on Food Fraud

Kevin T. Higgins Food Processing Magazine
DNA bar-coding that quickly confirms or reject claims that a food product is what it purports to be are entering the market, with the promise of exposing economically motivated fraud.

Virus Genes in Human DNA May, Surprisingly, Help Us Fight Infections

Brian Handwerk
When ancient retroviruses infected our ancestors, they occasionally infiltrated a human sperm or egg cell. If those cells went on to fertilize an embryo, any viral genes incorporated into them had a ticket to ride from one generation to the next. Evidence suggests that during human evolution we've co-opted leftover genetic material from some of these "fossil viruses" to turn the tables and help our immune system fight diseases.
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