Podcast: Europe suspends GMO rules to speed COVID vaccine; genes and coronavirus; Keto diet fights Alzheimer’s?

large
Credit: Reuters/Dado Ruvic

Europe has suspended some of its oppressive GMO regulations to speed development of a COVID-19 vaccine, drawing accusations of hypocrisy from the scientific community. A growing body of research suggests very low-carb diets could treat Alzheimer’s, ALS and even cancer. Your risk of coronavirus infection and death may be heavily influenced by your genetics—but how big of an influence are we talking about?

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:

For decades, Europe has so tightly regulated biotech crops that they’re effectively banned on the continent. A single variety of insect-resistant corn is the only GMO plant grown commercially in the EU. Despite these restrictions, ostensibly motivated by concerns for public health and the environment, Europe has suspended some of its rules governing genetic engineering to quickly develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. Why would the EU so rapidly drop its rules if biotech plants really pose a serious risk?

The scientific community is always debating the merits of low-carb diets, but these discussions typically center around carbohydrate restriction as a treatment for obesity and diabetes. However, ongoing research suggests that very high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diets may also be viable treatments for a variety of debilitating diseases, most notably cancer. Is this more hype than science, or does such an extreme way of eating really hold promise?

DNA Sequence

Everybody knows that age and pre-existing conditions boost your risk for severe coronavirus infection. What remains less clear is why some seemingly healthy individuals appear immune to COVID-19 while others quickly succumb to the disease. The answer to this perplexing question may lie in genetics. Dramatic advances in DNA sequencing technology are helping scientists zero in on particular variables—say, blood type or mutations in genes that influence immune function—that may help explain why there are such wide-ranging reactions to coronavirus. Knowledge of these genetic factors could also help fine tune efforts to trace and control the spread of SARS-COV-2, or even develop targeted treatments for the resulting infection.

Related article:  Podcast: USDA official examines future of GMO labeling, CRISPR gene-editing regulations in US

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

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
ft covidresponseus feature

Video: Viewpoint: The US wrote the global playbook on the coronavirus and then ignored it

A year ago, the United States was regarded as the country best prepared for a pandemic. Our government had spent ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend