Join geneticist Kevin Folta and GLP contributor Cameron English on this episode of Science Facts and Fallacies as they break down these latest news stories:
Infiltrated by anti-GMO activists, Mexico’s government continues to enact policies that restrict farmer access to vital weed killers and genetically engineered crops that promote sustainable agriculture. These measures are ostensibly motivated by concern for public health and the environment, though the evidence, and now a growing chorus of farmers, say otherwise. The country’s push to attain “food self-sufficiency” may be motivated by little else than ideology and politics.
- Bot lies: How the anti-GMO movement uses social media to hype opposition to genetically-engineered mosquitoes to rid Florida of insect-spread diseases
Is public opposition to genetic engineering an organic (excuse the pun) movement organized by grassroots activists, or a carefully illustrated by PR stunt by a handful of wealthy NGOs? The proliferation of anti-GMO Twitter bots, each parroting the message tweeted by the one before it, provides a new line of evidence that America’s anti-biotech movement is manipulating social media to spread its message by any means necessary.
- 7 people contract malaria every second. We are finally on the verge of engineering a vaccine to stymie one of the world’s most relentless killers
Scientists have worked for years to introduce an effective malaria vaccine. More than 140 candidate shots are in various stages of development, and one immunization, engineered by the pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline looked very promising. Unfortunately, the company’s vaccine wasn’t able to achieve long-term efficacy over 30 percent. That may change in the coming years.
Thanks to innovations in vaccine production, researchers have developed a shot that stimulates a bigger immune response than its predecessors, boosting its efficacy to 77 percent. If successful in clinical trials, the vaccine (known for now as R21) would be one of the biggest developments in public health we’ve seen in a long time.
Kevin M. Folta is a professor in the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida. Follow Professor Folta on Twitter @kevinfolta