Podcast: Lockdown skeptics are COVID ‘deniers’? Plant burgers don’t cause ‘man boobs.’ GMOs and terrorism

If you oppose lockdowns to stop the spread of COVID, are you a science denier, a covidiot? Potentially dangerous genetically engineered organisms could be released into society by unscrupulous governments and terrorists. Experts are rapidly developing countermeasures, but will they be enough? Contrary to the claims of self-improvement gurus and gym bros, men who eat plant-based burgers will not develop “man boobs.”

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:

Are society-wide lockdowns the best way to bring this pandemic to a swift end? No, say signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration, who instead advocate for an approach known as “focused protection.” Rather than keeping everyone in their homes to cut virus transmission, the three academics behind the alternative pandemic response argue that at-risk populations (primarily the elderly and people with preexisting conditions) could be isolated, while children and young adults “live their lives without lockdown restrictions.”
This, they claim, moves us closer to herd immunity without inflicting unnecessary collateral damage associated with the current policy. Is this a realistic response to COVID-19, or a textbook example of science denial?
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Advances in biotechnology are making it cheaper and easier than ever to utilize genetic engineering in agriculture and medicine. But how do we stop terrorists, totalitarian regimes and other bad actors from using tools like CRISPR-Cas9 to release potentially dangerous GE organisms? Regulators, biotech firms and independent scientists are working on preventative strategies, but there is disagreement among experts about how effective these measures will be.

Rest easy, men. You can enjoy a plant-based burger without fear of developing gynecomastia, “man boobs” in the vernacular. This long-debunked myth about the risk of consuming soy-based foods was resurrected by critics of the plant-based meat industry when consumption of Impossible Foods’ meatless burgers took off last year. The incident illustrates how easy it is to spread misinformation and why fear is such a powerful force in debates surrounding controversial science topics.

Related article:  CRISPR-edited crops reveal gene responsible for salt tolerance in rice

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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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