Podcast: Homeopathic ‘drug’ passes peer review; EU: GMO crops bad, GMO medicine good; Wine industry wants CRISPR

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Research validating a homeopathic ‘drug’ for erectile function was published in a peer-reviewed science journal. Europe’s Green Party opposes genetic engineering in agriculture but approves of it in medicine. Why the double standard? The wine industry is embracing gene editing to cut down on pesticide use and battle crop disease.

Join geneticist Kevin Folta and GLP editor Cameron English on this episode of Science Facts and Fallacies as they break down these latest news stories:

“There’s little evidence to support homeopathy as an effective treatment for any specific health condition,” the NIH says, and mainstream medicine has roundly rejected the alternative health movement. So how did a study backing the use of a homeopathic compound to boost erectile function pass peer review? Though the paper was ultimately retracted, it raises important questions about the integrity of the peer-review process.

Credit: IFreakingLoveScience, Biofortified

Europe’s Green Party is beginning to divide on the efficacy of crop biotechnology, with the next generation of members arguing that gene editing could help the EU sustainably produce food long into the future. But this small faction of pro-science environmentalists was overruled by the party’s older leadership, which contends that genetic engineering in medicine is acceptable while the same technology used in agriculture poses a serious threat. Is Europe finally progressing past its fear of GMOs?

Winegrowers around the world are even more excited about gene editing than the next generation of environmentalists. The industry faces a handful of deadly diseases that threaten to wipe out the most prized wine grape varieties—Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, among several others—that for now can only be controlled with pesticides.

While consumers only want certain kinds of wine, they’ve also grown wary of the chemicals (even the organic ones) used to protect grapes from disease. Tackling these plant pests with CRISPR may be the solution that satisfies consumers without disrupting the wine industry’s business model.

Related article:  'Food Evolution' movie could mark turning point in public GMO discussion

Subscribe to the Science Facts and Fallacies Podcast on iTunes and Spotify.

Kevin M. Folta is a professor in the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida. Follow Professor Folta on Twitter @kevinfolta

Cameron J. English is the GLP’s managing editor. BIO. Follow him on Twitter @camjenglish

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