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Showing posts from July, 2016

The Facts on Indian Farmer Suicides and GMO

This Talking Biotech Podcast features Dr. Ron Herring from Cornell University, a sociologist that carefully examined the claims that seed companies drive farmers in India to take their own lives.  Hosted by Kavin Senapathy. 


Unfilled Glowing Plant Promises Harm Science Perception

About two years ago the internet erupted with a cool kickstarter campaign.  The Glowing Plant Project claimed to want to create trees that would light the streets. The concept spread quickly, with prominent pieces on major websites that stoked contributions to the project.  It would ultimately raise $484,013.

Years later there are no glowing plants even in service as dim nightlights, let alone illuminating our cities.  The overselling of this concept was recently reviewed by Antonio Regalato at MIT Technology Review.

Natural lighting?  That implies using it as a light.  Not quite
Today's blog expands on the comments made in Regalato's wonderful article. The Glowing Plant Project thrived on the hype, and did not do itself any favors with a few bad moves that I feel were a bit deceptive, and in the long run, it could have a very negative impact on the perception of edgy science at the public interface.  Even today the website makes a very strong claim, and presents a picture that …

Unfilled Glowing Plant Promises Harm Science Perception

About two years ago the internet erupted with a cool kickstarter campaign.  The Glowing Plant Project claimed to want to create trees that would light the streets. The concept spread quickly, with prominent pieces on major websites that stoked contributions to the project.  It would ultimately raise $484,013.

Years later there are no glowing plants even in service as dim nightlights, let alone illuminating our cities.  The overselling of this concept was recently reviewed by Antonio Regalato at MIT Technology Review.

Natural lighting?  That implies using it as a light.  Not quite
Today's blog expands on the comments made in Regalato's wonderful article. The Glowing Plant Project thrived on the hype, and did not do itself any favors with a few bad moves that I feel were a bit deceptive, and in the long run, it could have a very negative impact on the perception of edgy science at the public interface.  Even today the website makes a very strong claim, and presents a picture that …

Disgusted with (Some) Science Advocates

Just when you think the social media discussion of science can't get any more gross, it does.  This is no longer a discussion about science, about whether to play with DNA or vaccinate kids, about climates changing or chemtrails overhead.  What we are witnessing is a new low by a tiny sub-population of out-of-hand science advocates. The brutality, harassment and name-calling scientists have had to endure, is now going back the other way from those that claim to represent a science-minded community. 

Stop now. It is not the way we teach. It is not the way we share what we know.  It is not the way you will represent ideas I hold dear.  

Some folks need to rethink their direction if they want to get where they are trying to go.
This is no longer about science. It has entered a realm of basic right and wrong. The day science advocates start denigrating others in our name, we've lost, and you shift the focus from bad science to me as your central problem.  Stop wasting my time. 

I'…

Disgusted with (Some) Science Advocates

Just when you think the social media discussion of science can't get any more gross, it does.  This is no longer a discussion about science, about whether to play with DNA or vaccinate kids, about climates changing or chemtrails overhead.  What we are witnessing is a new low by a tiny sub-population of out-of-hand science advocates. The brutality, harassment and name-calling scientists have had to endure, is now going back the other way from those that claim to represent a science-minded community. 

Stop now. It is not the way we teach. It is not the way we share what we know.  It is not the way you will represent ideas I hold dear.  

Some folks need to rethink their direction if they want to get where they are trying to go.
This is no longer about science. It has entered a realm of basic right and wrong. The day science advocates start denigrating others in our name, we've lost, and you shift the focus from bad science to me as your central problem.  Stop wasting my time. 

I'…

Another Downside of Glyphosate

Dr. Stephanie Seneff is famous for her observation that autism rates track glyphosate, leading her to the conclusion that glyphosate causes autism and that 50% of children will be autistic in 2025.  At that rate, and logic, every kid will be autistic in 2045. 

In looking at statistics, I found another confounding contributor.  Enjoy. 


The trend is undeniable.

The numbers of UFO sightings are increasing, no doubt brought on by the use of glyphosate.  Or maybe UFOs make kids autistic.  Or UFOs cause glyphosate. It is so hard for me to think wrong! 
When you look at a heat map of where the most sightings occur, look what is at the end of that yellow arrow.... You guessed it.  Monsanto World HQ.  Coincidence?


Happy Friday. Enjoy the weekend, listen to the podcast... covering the NAS Report with Dr. Neal Stewart. 






National Academies Report Summaried

A subset of the panel that met to synthesize the science on genetic engineering in crops convened at the American Society of Plant Biologists 2016 conference in Austin, TX.  Drs. Robin Buell, Rick Dixon and Neal Stewart discussed the results and process of the panel's conclusions.

There were 20 people on the committee from diverse backgrounds and looked at a wide variety of literature and testimony.  Testimony came from "individuals who have been directly involved in, or who have special knowledge of the question" and they were charged to examine "all credible views".

The committee examined relevant literature, over 1000 publications, saw ~80 personal interviews. Interviews were conducted with many non-scientists with strong anti-GMO views. The entire process was transparent and all information presented was available to the public. Any member of the public could access the information.  All of this was a first for a National Academies Report. 

The central synthes…

I'm Not Pro-GMO

For years I've had to make that clarification.  I'm not pro-GMO.  I never would characterize myself as pro-GMO

Last week Mark Lynas and I answered questions for an audience in Belfast, Northern Ireland. At the end the moderator polled the audience for who was "anti-GMO" and who was "pro-GMO". Mark and I sat quietly and did not raise our hands.  



That's me, Mark and Prof. Chris Elliot at the event in Belfast.

The moderator quipped, "Obviously both of you are pro-GMO." 

Mark and I both rejected that categorization. 

As a scientist, I find such terms of ideological grounding quite troubling.  Genetic engineering is a technology.  I can think of good applications, I can think of evil applications.  My synthesis of four decades of literature and a deep understanding of the technology says that the applications have been overwhelmingly positive. 

Consistent with the recent interpretations of the National Academies of Science, there is no evidence of hea…