How biotech, GMOs can reduce CO2 emissions

| April 27, 2015

Are GMOs increasing the profits of farmers and biotech companies at the expense of the environment? As I have learned more about biotechnology and agriculture, contrary to popular fear, I have found that there is actually no scientific evidence of  harm from GMOs – but it doesn’t stop there. Conversely, I have learned that there are

Infographic: Global GM crops reduced farm chemical usage and CO2 emissions in 2016 boom year

| May 9, 2017

[T]he International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) released its annual report showcasing the 110-fold increase in adoption rate of biotech crops globally in just 21 years of commercialization – growing from 1.7 million hectares in 1996 to 185.1 million hectares in 2016. ISAAA’s report, “Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2016,” continues

Baby’s microbiome may come from mom’s mouth via placenta

| | May 22, 2014

Babies in the womb are not as sheltered from the outside world as you might think. The placenta harbours a unique ecosystem of bacteria which may have a surprising origin – the mother’s mouth. Disturbances of the placenta’s bacterial community may explain why some women give birth prematurely, and could also be one of the

The great GMO labeling con

| November 8, 2013

Marc Bellemare, assistant professor in the Department of Agriculture at the University of Minnesota, writes that the “right to know” motivation behind GMO labeling campaigns are really a front for their real goals–to demonize GMOs altogether and promote the organic food market. As a consequence of the Washington state legislature voting on resolution 522 this

When newspapers con the public

| | March 21, 2013

The following is an edited excerpt. Now let’s turn to the Guardian, and this video on genetically modified crops it recently posted on its website. The piece is as slanted and error-ridden as they come, made all the more obvious for its reliance on a notoriously discredited study by a French researcher with a weird history who has long been an anti-GMO

GE comes to the fashion world

| | July 3, 2013

The following is an edited excerpt. ‘Genetically modified’ (GM) has been associated for a long time with food. Now scientists have engineered silkworms to produce fluorescent fabrics. Genetically modified organisms have not been previously associated with clothing. That could be about to change. Researchers have genetically engineered silkworms to produce colored fluorescent silks, which are

To Mom: Thanks for the genes

| | May 12, 2014

Mother’s Day is a day of appreciation, of gratitude, and of guilt. Guilt for all the things I put my mother through over the years. A time to say I’m sorry, and to recognize how much she did for me. This Mother’s Day I’d like to apologize for what is probably the worst thing I’ve

Chewing over GM labels

| | June 27, 2012

Mandatory labelling of genetically modified (GM) products is likely to increase costs across the value chain, an executive of Canadian GM company CropLife Canada said at a recent agribusiness meeting in Pretoria.

Biotech food companies pledge transparency, launch

| | July 29, 2013

With pressure growing to label genetically modified foods, the developers of biotechnology crops are starting a campaign to gain support for their products by promising new openness. The centerpiece of the effort is a Web site that is expected to go into operation to answer virtually any question posed by consumers about genetically engineered crops.

Genetics turns cows into export marvels

| | July 24, 2012

Hawke’s Bay agri-businesses Brownrigg Agriculture and Firstlight Foods are turning a wasted resource into export gold. Hybrid dairy bobby calves are usually sent straight to the works but thanks to Brownrigg’s success in breeding top wagyu, a cross between the animals is producing a premium product. They imported embryos and air-freighted wagyu calves to their Japanese customer who helped improve their Te Aute Valley herd’s genetics. They now produce top-flight bulls. Use is also made of pharmaceutical company Pfizer’s genetic profiling service.

Does dyslexia come with some advantages?

| | August 21, 2014

Dyslexia is often called a “learning disability.” And it can indeed present learning challenges. Although its effects vary widely, children with dyslexia read so slowly that it would typically take them a half a year to read the same number of words other children might read in a day. The fact that people who read so slowly

Sustainably produced ‘cow’s milk’ made using genetically engineered yeast coming to your breakfast table

| | January 13, 2017

…[T]he next trend for [milk] isn’t a plant-based alternative: It’s cow’s milk—with a twist. Though nearly identical to the stuff you grew up drinking, this milk is produced not by bovines, but by yeasts—single-celled fungi. And if Perfect Day, a Bay Area-based synthetic-biology startup, has its way, you might be able to buy yeast-produced milk this

GM labelling comes to India

| | January 2, 2013

On the New Year’s day India joined a select band of countries in the world which have mandated labeling of food containing genetically modified (GM) content, but it has done so without any preparation.   Labellig of foods with GM ingredients has been a long pending demand of consumer groups, but the way it has been done

Will Gattaca come true?

| | May 11, 2012

Noninvasive, early fetal tests for sex, paternity and chromosomal conditions will change pregnancy dramatically- and raise tricky ethical questions.A scientist in Hong Kong had recently shown that a pregnant woman’s blood contains a small amount of fetal DNA, and the prenatal screening world was buzzing about the potential of that discovery. Accurate blood tests, it was said, might soon reveal abundant information about the fetus as early as seven weeks of pregnancy. Rabinowitz drew on that excitement in 2004 when he founded Gene Security Network, later renamed Natera. Among the tests the company would develop was one to diagnose Down syndrome.

California gene-altered food campaigns draw $4.3 million

| | August 3, 2012

A campaign to make California the first state to require labeling of genetically modified foods has raised $2.3 million in donations, compared with $2 million collected by opponents, state records show. LLC, a closely held distributor of vitamins and nutrition products based in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, donated $800,000 to back the November ballot initiative as of July 27, according to data posted on the Secretary of State’s website. Major contributors to the campaign against the measure include PepsiCo Inc. (PEP) (PEP), the world’s largest snack-food maker, Nestle SA (NESN)’s Nestle USA and Coca-Cola Co. (KO) (KO), records show.

Climate change fighting plants: Genetically modified crops could trap half of human CO2 emissions in soil

| | December 6, 2017

The Salk Institute has enlisted a new ally in the effort to address the anticipated dangers of climate change — plants. Scientists at the institute propose to breed plants to more efficiently remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, sequestering it in the ground for many decades. … By using plants as biological carbon scrubbers, as much as

GMOs and carbon fixation: Trapping CO2 in engineered plants and trees to convert it to energy

| November 21, 2016

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) may outgrow Frankenfood production. Soon, they may take over Frankenfixation, the industrial conversion of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) to biomass. That’s the word from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute (JGI), which has overseen an effort to stitch together an artificial metabolism from the bits and pieces of biosynthetic

The era of genetics-based advertising is coming

| | March 29, 2013

The following is an excerpt. If you thought personalised advertising based on your Facebook status updates, Gmail content or online browsing behaviour was creepy, just you wait. The era of genetics-based advertising is coming, and it could be just as profitable… Minneapolis-based startup Miinome is already building a platform that will help consumers control what

GM ryegrass for cows that could boost milk production 15% faces opposition in Australia

| | February 17, 2015

Daily farmers in Victoria Australia are debating the pros and cons of genetically modified (GM) ryegrass as peak representative group, United Dairyfarmers of Victoria (UDV), seeks to formulate their policy on adopting new GM pastures. A high energy ryegrass with greater sugar content, which would allow cows to produce more milk, is being developed by the

Improving the health of dairy cows using gene edited breeding–What are the issues?

| | January 4, 2018

How society regards the use of genetic modification and genome editing can have a significant influence on how these technologies are regulated by authorities and on the pace of technological advancement. In a review published in the Journal of Dairy Science authors from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences discuss potential applications of genetic modification and genome

The coming human cloning controversies

| | May 21, 2013

The following is an edited excerpt. I learned about the first successful human cloning last Monday, but couldn’t write about it until Wednesday because of a news embargo. Scientists and media pretended that this wasn’t really human cloning for political reasons; just a step in that general direction. But human cloning it was, and that

Plants engineered with algae genes could increase crop yields

| | August 28, 2017

To meet the food demands of a rising global population, innovative strategies are required to increase crop yields. Improvements in plant photosynthesis by genetic engineering show considerable potential towards this goal. One prospective approach is to introduce a CO2 concentrating mechanism into crop plants to increase carbon fixation by supplying the central carbon-fixing enzyme, Rubisco,

Sometimes, evolution comes with negative side effects

| | February 3, 2015

From rashes to irritable bowels, people today face certain health challenges because our ancestors evolved the genetic variations associated with these conditions in order to benefit human health, a new study has found. It’s ironic that the genes responsible for certain health problems evolved to help us, but it’s a reminder that physical traits are

Moms learn about GMOs on Illinois farm tours

| | January 23, 2015

When she read about an Illinois Farm Families field tour, Heather Guido applied. In May, she and other women in the City Moms group visited Paul and Donna Jeschke at their family farm. “One of the first questions and most-common questions we get from the moms is ‘Why do you grow GMOs?’” says Paul Jeschke, a

Who gains from anti-vax and anti-GMO campaigns?

| January 14, 2015

(Source:   Genetic engineering, synthetic biology poised to boost photosynthesis and carbon capture Can you be a skeptic and anti-GMO? Why one anti-GMO farmer switched to genetically engineered herbicide-tolerant seeds Viewpoint: Netflix promotes anti-GMO films, suppresses legitimate science Former Boulder, Col mayor: Only people propagating threats and distortions are anti-GMO organizers Leading plant scientist

Scientists design ‘health and safety’ cow with no horns

| | April 29, 2013

The following is an excerpt. Researchers are using gene-editing techniques to insert a DNA patch into the genome of Holsteins, Britain’s foremost dairy breed, to suppress horn growth. The extra DNA has been taken from other breeds of cattle to create a dairy cow that is identical in every respect to existing livestock but without

Time has come to bring personalized medicine to cancer

| | November 7, 2012

Pathologists take note! Human whole-genome sequencing of tumors was the source of information for making treatment decisions in a recently-published study. For the first time, researchers conducted a large trial involving testing the entire genome of individual breast cancers with the aim of personalized treatment. Pathologists and clinical laboratory administrators can view this latest study as another sign that genetic testing and molecular testing are moving at a pace to become as important as traditional diagnostic methods.

LA Times comes out against Prop 37

| October 8, 2012

There’s a growing gap between what grocery shoppers think they know about their food and the reality. Those tomatoes with the evenly rich red color that look ripened to perfection? They were bred to avoid showing streaks of green, a result of genetic prodding that also stole away most of their flavor. Unless the carton says otherwise, the eggs didn’t come from chickens that scratched around in barnyards but rather spent their lives in cramped battery cages that offered no room to move around. There’s a good chance the meat came from animals that were given antibiotics from their youngest days, both to promote growth and to prevent disease from sweeping through their crowded pens. Pesticides were almost certainly used on the fruits and vegetables. And the sweetener in the soda, or the golden corn on the cob, probably was a product of genetic engineering.

How did Monsanto come to be the Devil in the GMO debate?

| | February 12, 2014

Which is the real Monsanto? The one poisoning the world and failing to improve crops with genetically modified seeds, or the mega-successful company with the top science officer extolled for helping to make agriculture more productive, resilient, and cost-effective? How can one company be so reviled and lauded at the same time? Something has to

Vietnam slow and cautious when it comes to GMOs

| March 13, 2014

Speaking during the seminar launch of ISAAA Brief 46 on Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops for 2013 on February 20, 2014 in Hanoi, Dr. Nguyen Van Tuat, Deputy Director of Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said GM corn has been planted on a trial basis since 2007. From this test, seven corn lines have proven to be insect resistant and yielding double the

Later childbirth related to longer life for moms

| June 26, 2014

Women who naturally conceive their last child after age 33 tend to live longer than those who have their final child by age 29, according to a new study by researchers at Boston University School of Medicine. The study published on Wednesday in the journal Menopause, looked at the data from 462 women who were

Sick from stress? Blame your Mom, and epigenetics

| August 3, 2012

If you’re sick from stress, a new research report appearing in the August 2012 issue of The FASEB Journal suggests that what your mother ate — or didn’t eat — may be part of the cause. The report shows that choline intake that is higher than what is generally recommended during pregnancy may improve how a child responds to stress. These improvements are the result of epigenetic changes that ultimately lead to lower cortisol levels. Epigenetic changes affect how a gene functions, even if the gene itself is not changed. Lowering cortisol is important as high levels of cortisol are linked to a wide range of problems ranging from mental health to metabolic and cardiovascular disorders.

Media mangles latest biotech innovation—hornless cows

| | April 29, 2013

Despite exaggerated claims from various media outlets over the weekend, the innovations that led to the hornless dairy cow are both breathtaking and simple—part of an international effort that has found a less expensive, faster, safer and more precise way to combine genetic engineering with standard breeding techniques to modify livestock.

Myriad case is coming to US Supreme Court

| | March 6, 2013

The following is an excerpt. For 30 years, companies have been patenting human genes. Yes, the very genetic material of our bodies, of our DNA, albeit in isolated forms. For longer than that, debates have been incessant — in the scientific community, between businesses, and in the courts — over whether or not this practice

How a quarter of the cow genome came from snakes

| | January 4, 2013

Genomes are often described as recipe books for living things. If that’s the case, many of them badly need an editor. For example, around half of the human genome is made up of bits of DNA that have copied themselves and jumped around, creating vast tracts of repetitive sequences. The same is true for the

The coming tsunami of genomic information, and questions that go with it

| | September 3, 2013

This past spring, scientists posted online the complete genome of cells derived from Henrietta Lacks, revealing information about her — and her descendants. The researchers withdrew the information when the family, understandably, balked. Last month, scientists sequenced other cells from her, and the NIH announced that only researchers who applied for permission would have access to the

GMO Q&A with an Illinois farmer

| March 3, 2014

A seventh generation farmer answers readers questions about GMOs Are GMOs safe? Yes. The World Health Association, the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the American Medical Association, the European Food Safety Authority and the National Academy of Sciences, to name a few, have all deemed ingredients derived from a genetically modified crop

GMO Q&A with an Illinois farmer

| March 3, 2014

A seventh generation farmer answers readers questions about GMOs Are GMOs safe? Yes. The World Health Association, the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the American Medical Association, the European Food Safety Authority and the National Academy of Sciences, to name a few, have all deemed ingredients derived from a genetically modified crop

Will Monsanto destroy Mexico’s corn?

| | December 14, 2012

Aljazeera.comWill Monsanto destroy Mexico's corn?Aljazeera.comThose in the North fear the high costs and debts associated with transgenic corn, while the farmers in the South are the primary protectors of thousands of ancient varieties. Ecological destruction. On the eve of elections, in a small but important …and more »

GMO rice dramatically reduces farm greenhouse gas emissions

| | December 2, 2015

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. A slight change in a single gene of rice can avoid the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions each year as all the wind turbines in the world, the same as 15 nuclear power plants. Work led by Dr. Christer Jansson at

GMO Q&A with an Illinois farmer

| March 3, 2014

A seventh generation farmer answers readers questions about GMOs Are GMOs safe? Yes. The World Health Association, the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the American Medical Association, the European Food Safety Authority and the National Academy of Sciences, to name a few, have all deemed ingredients derived from a genetically modified crop

Agriculture R&D goes multinational, global

| | July 19, 2012

“Discovery” companies invest heavily in screening new chemical, biological, and pharmaceutical compounds for useful traits that can be patented and developed commercially. These are often large companies with hundreds of millions of dollars in annual product sales. The largest of these companies in the crop chemical, seed and trait and animal health industries invest 9 percent or more of their annual product sales in research.

GM algae could dramatically cut carbon emissions to produce ‘greener’ plastics

| | August 20, 2015

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. From polyester shirts to the production of high-grade industrial ethanol, the contribution of the chemical feedstock ethylene can be found just about everywhere. But ethylene has an environmental cost. It’s made using petroleum and natural gas, and its production emits more CO2 than any other

Genetic reason why tomatoes come in such a variety of sizes

| | August 21, 2017

The gradual increase in size of tomatoes is in part the result of breeders, ancient and modern, continually selecting and crossbreeding to favour big-fruiting plants. … In a paper published in the journal PLOS Genetics, they show that the mutated CSR [cell size regulator gene] results in a shortened variant of the protein produced by

California: Conflicts come to light at stem cell institute

| May 31, 2013

The following is an excerpt. With a new chairman, Jonathan Thomas, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine claims it has turned a page. Thomas has vowed to be aggressive in avoiding conflicts in dispersing millions of public dollars for stem cell research. Yet serious conflicts continue to be revealed involving CIRM. The latest one throws into question a $20 million

Baby genes reflect mom’s stress

| February 3, 2014

Stress can affect a baby’s genes even before a mother conceives, research suggests. An Israeli study suggested that women under severe stress suffered changes in their eggs. The research, at the University of Haifa, was carried out on rats but scientists believe the conclusions can be applied to humans. Previous research had shown that exposing

Our oldest ancestors are warty comb jellies

| | December 13, 2013

Saying that our oldest ancestors are warty comb jelliies might not sound too flattering, but it’s an improvement. Until now, our earliest relatives, the first branch in the animal kingdom’s proverbial tree, were thought to be sponges, the sessile and collagen wads. A paper published this week in the journal Science reports that ctenophores, a phylum of

Donor egg pregnancies increase risk for complications for moms

| | July 8, 2014

Women who become pregnant using donated eggs have at least three times the risk of developing serious complications, a major study has found. Such cases are four times as likely to suffer pre-eclampsia and have a threefold risk of high blood pressure in pregnancy compared with other women having fertility treatment, according to new research.

Which comes first for genetics: Science, or culture?

| | August 28, 2015

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.  The last few decades have seen what some describe as a “genetic revolution”. Advances in genetic science have seen genes become all-encompassing in political and scientific discussion. Do a quick survey of recent stories, for example, and you will

GMO cows might save your life

| | December 5, 2016

They look like normal black-and-white Holstein cows, a common sight in Western Iowa. But these cows are special: used not for their milk or meat, but for their blood. They’re plasma donors, and one day, the life they save may be your own. The cows were genetically engineered by biotech company SAB Biotherapeutics to produce

Voluntary GMO labeling bill approved by Senate Agriculture Committee

, | | March 1, 2016

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. [NEWS UPDATE: The Senate Agriculture Committee passed the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, also known as SAFE, which would prevent states from passing mandatory food labeling laws for genetically modified organisms, including one such law scheduled to go into effect

RNAi gene silencing comes back to life

| | April 23, 2014

After a rocky start, RNA interference (RNAi), a gene-silencing technique that won the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, is gaining momentum. In November, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, Massachusetts, announced its first major success: evidence that an RNAi-based treatment drastically reduced levels of a toxic liver protein in people with a rare neuro­degenerative disease.

Migraines may come down to one neurotransmitter

| | October 9, 2015

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.  Blocking a single neurotransmitter in the brain may stop the firing of the nerves that are linked with migraine headaches, a new study in animals suggests. In experiments, researchers looked at the effects of two vasodilators — which are

More voices of farm moms needed in GMO conversation

| April 8, 2015

U.S. farmers make up approximately 1.5 percent of the population. They are the most credible source of information about production details, the inputs used, and the challenges faced.  However, they are not active in social media. Of course, there are notable exceptions, one featured here today. On the other hand there is Moms Across America, a group

Is celebrity chef Tom Colicchio wrong about GMOs?

| | March 7, 2016

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. [On March 2], published an interview with celebrity chef Tom Colicchio about his petition to label [GMO] foods . . . . I don’t necessarily believe that GMOs are inherently dangerous. . . .but I still believe that people have

Scientists torn over Kenya’s recent GM food ban

| | December 4, 2012

Nature.comScientists torn over Kenya's recent GM food banNature.comA cabinet meeting chaired by Kenya's president, Mwai Kibaki, this month (8 November), directed the public health minister to ban GMO imports until the country is able to certify that they have no negative impact on people's health. In a statement to …Big blow to biotechnology research as Kenya bans GM foodsThe Standard Digital Newsall 2 news articles »

Can your genes explain sexual orientation?

| | October 31, 2012

Advocate.comCan Your Genes Explain Sexual Orientation?Advocate.comSo I think that the 23andMe platform is really conducive to doing research on sensitive topics because people are providing information anonymously from home. But that's the request that came up again and again and again: 'Can you study sexual …and more »

Family farmers head to Washington to battle Monsanto in court

| | January 7, 2013

DigitalJournal.comFamily farmers head to Washington to battle Monsanto in"Plaintiffs in this matter represent farmers and seed businesses who do not want to use or sell transgenic seed. Plaintiffs are largely organic farmers and organic seed businesses, but also include nonorganic farmers who nonetheless wish to farm …and more »

Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio calls for GMO labeling in New York

| | June 16, 2014

A consumer goes to the produce aisle in the supermarket and sees five displays of strawberries. The first is labeled “USDA Organic,” the second “GMO-free,” the third “All Natural,” the fourth “Locally Grown,” and the fifth has no label. Which of the strawberries is genetically modified? Answer: None. There are no GMO strawberries being commercially

Court lifts cloud over embryonic stem cells

| | January 16, 2013

Nature.comCourt lifts cloud over embryonic stem cellsNature.comThe US Supreme Court's decision last week to throw out a lawsuit that would have blocked federal funding of all research on human embryonic stem cells cleared the gloom that has hung over the field for more than three years. Yet the biggest boost from …Harvard Researchers: Embryonic Cells Can Cause CancerSalem-News.ComSafety of stem cells supported by mouse studyBioNewsall 4 news articles »

Henry Rowlands: Edits Sustainable Pulse, GMO Seralini and slew of anti-GMO propaganda sites

April 15, 2014

Henry Oscar Rowlands (born around 1980-1985) is a Welsh (Wales) native, activist and organic entrepreneur sometimes based in Sophia Bulgaria and publisher of the Sustainable Pulse. He works closely with anti-GMO campaigner Claire Robinson of Earth Open Source. Both have a working relationship with Jeffrey M. Smith, who is linked to the Maharishi cult. Rowlands has

Two-thirds in Britain support GM crop testing

| | July 30, 2012

Public opinion in Britain has turned in favor of allowing experiments on genetically modified crops, according to a ComRes survey for The Independent. The survey appears to show that resistance to GM crops may be weakening, at least in Britain. Respondents were asked if the government should encourage GM crop experimentation in order to reduce the amount of pesticides used. Sixty-four percent agreed there should be experimentation, while 23 percent disagreed and 9 percent replied “didn’t know.”

GMO Q&A with an Illinois farmer

| | March 3, 2014

A seventh generation farmer answers readers questions about GMOs Are GMOs safe? Yes. The World Health Association, the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the American Medical Association, the European Food Safety Authority and the National Academy of Sciences, to name a few, have all deemed ingredients derived from a genetically modified crop

Why General Mills and Post took vitamins out of non-GMO breakfast cereals

| | December 9, 2014

Remember when Cheerios and Grape-Nuts went GMO-free? That was about a year ago, when their corporate creators announced that these products would no longer contain ingredients made from genetically modified organisms like common types of corn, soybeans or sugar beets. When they actually arrived on supermarket shelves, though, there was a mysterious change in their list of

Dr. Oz called out for being too moderate

| | December 5, 2012

There has been a firestorm of activity concerning Dr. Oz following his publication of an opinion piece in TIME Magazine calling people who buy local, organic, non-GMO food “snobs” and “elitists” and “snooty.” To say this rubbed the organic food movement the wrong way would be an understatement. Dr. Oz’s facebook page was hit with

Prop 37 — defeat or not — marks food movement coming of age

| | November 7, 2012

If Proposition 37, California’s GMO labeling measure, gets voted down today, it will be unfortunate and frustrating for many. But it won’t happen for lack of a movement. If that happens and Monsanto takes the day, it won’t be because there’s not a bona fide movement gathering steam. On the contrary, I’d say the good food movement — awkward adolescent that it is — may have just had a taste of its first stiff drink.

One-fourth of cow genome descendant from snakes and lizards, study shows

| | October 19, 2017

There are genes known as retrotransposons that can copy themselves and paste the duplicates in other parts of our DNA, creating large tracts of repetitive gobbledygook. Around half of the human genome consists of these jumping genes. And a quarter of a cow’s DNA consists of one particular jumping gene, known as BovB. It, and

GMO fix for California’s drought-stricken almonds will not come easy

| | January 30, 2015

The current drought hitting the west coast of America is giving the nation’s almond growers a particular headache Last week, California’s drought became a state of emergency. ‘We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms

Genetic ethics cops shout “designer babies” to abort life saving therapy

| | October 26, 2012

As we highlighted this week in Gene-ius, a dramatic, life-improving breakthrough is on the horizon in gene therapy. Researchers from Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) revealed a new method that can successfully prevent dementia, diabetes, deafness and other inherited diseases caused by mutations in mitochondria—the DNA that acts as an energy engine in every cell. In a peculiar twist, the procedure would result in a child having DNA from two mothers. “When certain mutations in mitochondrial DNA are present, a child can be born with severe conditions, including diabetes, deafness, eye disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, heart disease, dementia and several other neurological diseases,” explained lead researcher Shoukhrat Mitalipov. “Because mitochondrial-based genetic diseases are passed from one generation to the next, the risk of disease is often quite clear. The goal of this research is to develop a therapy to prevent transmission of these disease-causing gene mutations.” The scientists are hoping to begin clinical trials with human subjects in the near future.

Does a population’s happiness come from its gene pool?

| January 19, 2016

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. For as much time as Americans spend saying it is the greatest country on Earth, a whole lot of people worry about creating safe spaces where free expression is not allowed, or protesting the behavior of people they don’t

You probably inherited more traits from Dad than Mom

| | March 4, 2015

We humans get one copy of each gene from mom and one from dad (ignoring those pesky sex chromosomes) – that hasn’t changed. The same is true for all mammals. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that mom and dad genes are equally active in creating who we are. Researchers now report that thousands of mouse

American Medical Association comes out against GMO labeling

| | June 22, 2012

On June 19, the American Medical Association adopted a policy statement that says “there is no scientific justification for special labeling of bioengineered foods, as a class, and that voluntary labeling is without value unless it is accompanied by focused consumer education.” However, the AMA does support extensive safety testing of GM products. In the new policy report, the AMA emphasizes the fact that conventional breeding and genetically engineered breeding both have the potential to cause safety hazards.

GM cows used to produce milk that protects against HIV

| October 25, 2012

Despite the misgivings that many people have surrounding cow’s milk, it is a good source of nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D. Now, thanks to scientists at Melbourne University, special milk may also be used to protect people from HIV. Working with the Australian biotechnology company Immuron Ltd, a team led by Dr. Marit Kramski has vaccinated pregnant cows with an HIV protein – the first milk that those animals produced after giving birth contained HIV-disabling antibodies. While cows cannot contract HIV themselves, they do nonetheless produce antibodies in response to the introduction of the foreign protein. Those antibodies are passed along in the colostrum, or first milk – that milk already has a naturally high antibody content, in order to protect newborn calves against infections. In laboratory tests, the milk-derived HIV antibodies were found to bind with HIV, inhibiting it from entering human cells.

Judge rejects “Moms for Labeling” group lawsuit of No on 522

| | October 8, 2013

A Thurston County judge has rejected the lawsuit filed last month by a “Moms for Labeling” group that sought better campaign finance disclosure by the food-industry in the ballot fight this fall over Initiative 522. The No on 522 campaign has raised a record $17.2 million to oppose the requirement to label all genetically modified

Scientists develop genetically modified cows that produce low-lactose milk

| | June 19, 2012

Scientists have unveiled a genetically modified cow whose milk they claim is healthier, triggering fresh alarm over the growth of ‘Frankenstein foods’. The cow, whose embryo was manipulated to include genes from bacteria, produces milk containing healthy omega-3 fats commonly found in fish and which are thought to be good for arteries and heart. The Chinese scientists say the creation of the GM cow could have huge health benefits for humans.

India unlikely to approve GMO mustard in time for coming growing season

| | October 11, 2016

The debate around genetically modified crops and a recent PIL in the Supreme Court may force the government to delay its final decision on GM mustard. With the transgenic variety of mustard unlikely to be released for the coming Rabi (winter crop) season, the focus will be on non-GM varieties to help increase production. Transgenic mustard not getting cleared in

Future of milk? Genetically engineered yeast could replace cows

| | March 21, 2017

The latest new buzzword in food tech? Fermentation. And we’re not talking about the kimchi or kombucha kind. Rather, it’s a process increasingly used by food companies to answer a ballooning demand for natural ingredients that are hard to come by. Instead of sourcing these ingredients from nature, food scientists are creating them through an

GM grass for dairy cows needs commercial partner, consumer acceptance

| | February 20, 2015

Some Victorian dairy farmers want the opportunity to grow genetically modified ryegrass. However they concede community acceptance of GM is important, before they can proceed. Victorian Dairy Futures Cooperative Research Centre estimates that GM rye grass crops could add an up to $300 per hectare in value for dairy farmers, from increased milk production. Jindivick

Personalized health care? Precision medicine finally coming of age

| November 15, 2017

Precision medicine means that doctors will use patients’ medical histories, genetic information and relevant research to create a treatment plan designed for them. It will give doctors the tools they need to best care for and treat their patients, says Mylynda B. Massart, MD, PhD, assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.

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

October 14, 2014

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 evolutionary ecologist who serves as senior scientist at Consumers Union and leads their farming, food and animal agriculture (beef, Mad Cow Disease, dairy hormones) related initiatives.[1][2] He contends that “there are safety issues

Tom Wolfe 20 years later: What neuroscience predictions came true?

| | February 24, 2016

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Twenty years ago, Tom Wolfe wrote one of the most influential articles in neuroscience. Titled Sorry, But Your Soul Just Died, the 1996 article explores how ideas from brain science were beginning to transform our understanding of human nature and

All happiness is not equal, at least when it comes to gene expression and stress

| July 30, 2013

But if all happiness is created equal, and equally opposite to ill-being, then patterns of gene expression should be the same regardless of hedonic or eudaimonic (the results of striving toward meaning and a noble purpose beyond simple self-gratification) well-being. Not so, found the researchers. Eudaimonic well-being was, indeed, associated with a significant decrease in a systematic

Proposed bill says cows fed GMO grain produce GMO milk

| | July 15, 2015

A GMO regulation bill set for approval in a House committee Wednesday has been changed to ensure that milk could only be certified as non-GMO if the cows are fed non-biotech grain. The latest draft of the bill that the House Agriculture Committee will consider also would require the Food and Drug Administration to write

As demand for beef grows, China faces choice between imported or cloned cows

| | December 7, 2015

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Remember when eating sustainably meant just having to choose between a local, non-organic tomato and an organic one flown in from Chile? Well, those were the good ole days. Now, thanks to advances in genetic engineering, our food choices are about to get a lot more complicated. Take

Birds come from ‘fastest-evolving’ dinosaurs

| | August 5, 2014

If almost all dinosaurs had feathers, as recent studies have indicated, what determined which ones would evolve into birds? According to new research published in Science, the mantra of the dino-birds was “just keep shrinking.” In fact, the dinosaur lineage that produced our modern birds spent 50 million years continually getting smaller and smaller in size, while

European organic agriculture leader comes out in favor of CRISPR

| | April 22, 2016

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. European activists opposing all forms of modern genetics have a new defector. The heretic is no other than Urs Niggli, for more than 25 years Director of the Switzerland-based Research Institute of Organic Agriculture. . . FiBL is one of

Farmers who try biotech seeds come back for more

| May 15, 2013

The following is an edited excerpt. Last year, too dry. This year, too wet. Spring planting is never perfect in America’s agricultural heartland. The past few growing seasons have been especially challenging. Yet crop yields have held up. One reason: bioengineered seeds, a big improvement on the ones Grandpa planted: The corn and soybeans grown

Pink-fleshed GMO pineapple coming to your dinner table

| | December 16, 2016

A strain of pineapple genetically engineered to be pink instead of yellow got the go-ahead from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on December 14 The pink pineapple, made by Del Monte Fresh Produce, simply has some genes toned down to keep the flesh of the fruit pinker and sweeter, the FDA said. “(Del Monte) submitted

How genetics helps make cows more profitable and environmentally friendly

| | June 12, 2017

[J. P.] Brouwer, along with his father and two brothers at Sunalta Farms in central Alberta, runs the first commercial dairy farm contributing data to the Genome Canada project. One part of the project aims to increase feed efficiency—growing cows as big as possible with as little food as possible—and reduce emissions of methane, a greenhouse

Editorial: Pass the food labeling bill

| March 8, 2013

The following is an edited excerpt. Harm from consuming genetically modified foods is well down our list of human health concerns. Hard evidence that eating foods whose genes have been manipulated to confer some benefit to farmers, consumers and most of all chemical companies like Monsanto, does not yet exist. But Rep. Maureen Mann, the

GM critics in Malyasia on attack

| | May 14, 2012

Contrary to national interest, Or hopelessly flawed. Take your pick. Whatever your choice, in what is billed as the Great Talong War, the pros and cons of a controversial eggplant has reached the Supreme Court. The gene of the so-called Bt eggplant has been modified to resist potentially disastrous infestations of the fruit and shoot borer, a major pest of eggplant. It is resistant because of a gene from the common soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis; that’s where the “Bt” term comes from. Like its predecessor the Bt corn, the Bt eggplant has long been the bone of contention between supporters and critics.

Food and Agriculture Organization official urges Zambia to accept GM

| June 14, 2012

Zambia has consistently expressed its official opposition to GM crops, but as elsewhere in Africa, the pressure to adopt them is relentless. FAO climate change expert Louis Bockel mainly used southern Africa’s increasingly unpredictable weather patterns to argue for why it was now particularly important for countries like Zambia to take a new look at GM technology. A few weeks before Bockel’s April call, an official of Zambia’s recently-elected ruling party reiterated the country’s continuing misgivings about gene-modified crops.

Agave genes could hold key to drought-resistant crops

| | July 16, 2015

Agave may be most associated with tequila, but this plant has a less familiar use — it’s teaching scientists about how to craft more drought-resistant plants. The hardy succulent, along with species like prickly pear (an edible cactus), pineapple and vanilla orchids, has evolved over millions of years to perform a different kind of photosynthesis

Data storage may be coming to a molecule near you

| | October 9, 2017

[George Church] and two Harvard colleagues translated an HTML draft of a 50,000-word book on synthetic biology, coauthored by Church, into binary code, converted it to a DNA sequence—coding 0s as A or C and 1s as G or T—and “wrote” this sequence with an ink-jet DNA printer onto a microchip as a series of

Do opposites attract? Not when it comes to psychiatric disorders

| | February 26, 2016

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. You like big-budget rom-coms, so you know the drill: Opposites attract. Those two characters who can’t stand each other in act one? Chasing each other through an airport by act three. Well…apparently science does not go to the movies. In

Cows genetically engineered to make human disease antibodies

| | March 26, 2014

A herd of 60 genetically engineered cows in northwestern Iowa could help unlock the key to producing new medicines that could treat human diseases, even cancer. The Jersey-Holstein cloned crosses, which project director Dr. Eddie Sullivan of Sanford Research Applied Biosciences in Sioux Falls said somewhat in jest receive the “best medical care anywhere,” have

Warning: Mandated GMO labeling comes at a cost

| | August 25, 2015

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. As economist David Henderson points out, many believe that government-mandated warnings are a largely harmless way to protect the public against various risks. But this assumes that the government is an “entity that will somehow provide the right kind of information.” In

Farmer weighs in on pros and cons of GMOs and organics

| | July 29, 2016

Greg Peterson is a farmer from Kansas . . . . . . . Organic farming has challenged the conventional way of doing things and has helped a lot of people start to think outside the box when it comes to food production. However, when it comes to sustainability, practicality, and overall efficiency, I do not believe

Drugs for your microbiome may be coming soon

| | April 18, 2016

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Those drugs in your cabinet? They’re designed to treat only half of you. The other half — the trillions of microbes throughout your body — haven’t historically interested drug makers. But as scientists learn more about the microbiome’s role

When will gene therapy come to the U.S.?

| | October 2, 2013

For patients with genetic diseases, gene therapy could offer a lifetime of benefits after a single treatment. For cancer patients, it could be a new way to fight the disease even as it spreads. Though many gene therapies have been tested in patients around the world in hopes of curing hereditary diseases, few governments have

Genetic testing comes with unforeseen risks of misdiagnoses

| | November 1, 2016

After a 13-year-old boy’s heart failed suddenly,…more than 20 of [the boy’s] relatives underwent genetic testing for heart conditions that could put them at increased risk of the same fate. The tests diagnosed the family members, including the boy’s brother, as having a potentially deadly genetic heart rhythm condition called long QT syndrome. As a

Efficient thinking comes from learning what to ignore

| | March 17, 2016

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Let’s begin with a little experiment: Whatever you do, as you’re reading this short article, don’t think about polar bears. This is, you may have recognized, a classic thought exercise from the writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky. In Winter Notes on

Can patients communicate telepathically while in a coma?

| | September 29, 2015

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.  If brain injury steals your consciousness then you are in a coma: we all know that. What is less well known is that there exist neighbouring states to the coma, in which victims keep their eyes open, but show

Is DNA destiny when it comes to heart disease?

| | November 16, 2016

A new analysis of data from more than 55,000 people provides an answer. It finds that by living right — by not smoking, by exercising moderately and by eating a healthy diet heavy in fruits, vegetables and grains — people can tamp down even the worst genetic risk. “DNA is not destiny; it is not

Genetically modified ‘golden rice’ coming to Philippines by 2016

| November 6, 2013

The first genetically-modified rice to be commercially available could be approved for production in the Philippines in two to three years, researchers said Tuesday, despite strong opposition from environmental groups. Officers of both the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Philippine government’s agriculture department said the newly-developed “golden rice” had completed field trials, despite

Fish with a placenta? How did evolution come up with that?

| | July 11, 2014

With their impressive fins and stunning colours, the poeciliids—a group of small fish that includes guppies, mollies and swordtails—are understandably popular in aquariums. Some have beautiful fan-shaped tails that look like flamenco dresses. Others resemble Kandinsky paintings given life. But some poeciliids are rare in aquaria, because they are relatively drab—silver-and-black oddities in a family

Societal challenges in the coming age of gene editing

| August 21, 2015

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.  Because it is so simple and easy to use, CRISPR gene editing has generated huge excitement in the worlds of molecular biology, medical research, commercial biotechnology—and gene therapy, where it may make it possible to make changes with profound

Singapore firm reveals new GM biofuel crop

| May 24, 2012

Singapore-based bioenergy company JOil has announced a new genetically modified strain of the jatropha plant which produces a higher quality biofuel for use in the automotive, aviation and power generation industries.

GE ‘anti-expert’ front & center on CNN

| June 21, 2013

The following is an edited excerpt. Of all the people CNN could have chosen for the ‘every day citizen’ comment in their little blurb about the recent GM wheat found in Oregon, they chose none other than Zen Honeycutt.  If you are unfamiliar with that name, go to Moms Across America March (MAAM) and you’ll

Moms Across America launches anti-GMO, anti-glyphosate billboard campaign

| | May 5, 2016

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. “Our Families Get Better When They Eat Organic” proclaim billboards in 191 U.S. locations. . . Those driving past the roadside ads with an image of a doting mom and child eating an apple wouldn’t know that the group responsible, Moms Across

GE ‘anti-expert’ front & center on CNN

| June 21, 2013

The following is an edited excerpt. Of all the people CNN could have chosen for the ‘every day citizen’ comment in their little blurb about the recent GM wheat found in Oregon, they chose none other than Zen Honeycutt.  If you are unfamiliar with that name, go to Moms Across America March (MAAM) and you’ll

‘Science moms’ defend Food Evolution movie against Zen Honeycutt’s ‘propaganda’ accusation

| | July 7, 2017

[Written by Alison Bernstein, Layla Katiraee, Jenny Splitter, Kavin Senapathy, and Anastasia Bodnar.] Despite numerous statements that the producers had creative control over [Food Evolution] and that funding came from the Institute of Food Technologists, accusations of “propaganda” continue to come in fast and furious. Zen Honeycutt, founder of Moms Across America, penned the most recent allegation, which

Viewpoint: Politico exaggerated link between climate change and food ‘nutrient collapse’

| | September 28, 2017

Politico offered the following headline, The great nutrient collapse, The atmosphere is literally changing the food we eat, for the worse. The article that followed reviewed a meta-analysis that was thought-provoking but did not go as far as Politico’s enticing header. … [While] the bottom line in the meta-analysis is that rising atmospheric CO2 alters

GMO grass could cut methane emissions from cows, improve milk yield

| | October 18, 2016

The grass is about to get greener thanks to DNA technology out of Denmark. Researchers say they’ve genetically modified a “super grass” that is easier on cow’s stomachs… “It is simply a better diet for the cow, which can utilize the feed more efficiently and therefore doesn’t release as much methane when it burps,” says Torben

Unlikely support for Bt/GM crops

| | June 29, 2012

The Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) bacteria protein in plants have not harmed monarch butterflies, honey bees, rats or shown up in the blood of pregnant women even though activist environmentalists have claimed such negatives.

How will Brexit affect bioethics in Europe?

| | June 27, 2016

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. What does Brexit mean for bioethics? It is tempting to provide an alarmist answer to this question. Yet it is wise to avoid the apocalyptic tone of recent media coverage and first to flag what is not going to change

Uptown rats? Rodents in New York City have genetically adapted to different neighborhoods

| | December 5, 2017

As a whole, Manhattan’s rats are genetically most similar to those from Western Europe, especially Great Britain and France. They most likely came on ships in the mid-18th century, when New York was still a British colony. … When [researcher Matthew] Combs looked closer, distinct rat subpopulations emerged. Manhattan has two genetically distinguishable groups of

GMO hornless cow awaits approval amid FDA policy changes

| | October 18, 2017

[In 2016], Recombinetics, the 35-person company [geneticist Scott Fahrenkrug] founded in 2008 with three other geneticists from the University of Minnesota, introduced its first genetically edited farm animal, a hornless Holstein milk cow… [Its] primary aim remains to supply gene-edited livestock to the agriculture industry, and Recombinetics says it can start doing that if, and

Human extinction could come within 5,100 years

| | October 16, 2017

Every day, it seems, brings with it fresh new horrors. Mass murder. Catastrophic climate change. Nuclear annihilation. It’s all enough to make a reasonable person ask: How much longer can things go on this way? A Princeton University astrophysicist named J. Richard Gott has a surprisingly precise answer to that question. … Assuming that you and I are not

Q&A: Hawaii mayors on pros and cons of GM crops on their islands

| March 13, 2014

Hawaii Business magazine interviewed the three Neighbor Island Hawaii mayors on various topic including the future of agriculture and GMOs. Edited answers below Hawaii Business: Is there a role for GMO agriculture on your islands? Kauai’s mayor, Bernard Carvalho: I believe that to be successful in creating a viable and robust agricultural economy, we must have

Your future perfume may come from genetically engineered microbes

| | November 9, 2015

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.  A synthetic biology foundry in Boston, Ginkgo Bioworks, which has dubbed itself as “the organism company,” is re-wilding our noses with raw biological smells by drilling right down into an organism’s DNA. In a room in Times Square packed

Mom’s genes and environment affect gender of kids

| | May 9, 2014

Families are especially complex: Cause and effect are hard to disentangle in the bubbling cauldron that is a household. There are the daily negotiations between husband and wife, instructions to (and rejections by) children, and interactions with people outside the family. Taken as a whole, it is a challenge for a social scientist to analyze.

Fetal cells stay in mom’s body long after pregnancy

| | September 16, 2015

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis.  Recently, a team of pathologists at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands carried out an experiment that might seem doomed to failure. They collected tissue from 26 women who had died during or just after pregnancy. All of

Mommy Food War: Not all organic moms are ‘sancti-mommies’

| | December 10, 2015

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Jenny Splitter’s ultimate premise in Salon piece “Stop telling me I’m poisoning my kids”: Food crusaders, sancti-mommies and the rise of entitled eaters,” is that we Americans have “one of the safest food systems in the world,” so while “kids in other countries