Showing posts from June, 2014

When Liars Cross the Line - GMO Insulin

I was shocked, but not surprised, when a internet meme from GMO-Free USA popped up on my Facebook page: GMO Free USA (and GMO Free Canada, eh) really shows their true colors with this one.  The referenced paper has nothing to do with GMO insulin, other than saying that it is better than the stuff from animals. The rocket surgeons over at GMO Free USA really stepped in it this time.  They are using their fear-based misinformation machine to now scare people away from life-saving insulin therapy.  We all depend on insulin, a hormone synthesized in the Pancreas, to control blood sugar levels. Elevated blood sugar can lead to a variety of metabolic disorders and long-term damage to various organs. Type II diabetics produce too much at first, leading to insulin resistance, a state where the body just does not respond to the hormone and blood sugar levels remain high. Eventually type II's do not produce enough, so they need to control blood sugar with drugs, or in some cases

Predicting the Future -- Seralini Rat Paper Redux

" I don't need a crystal ball; I have a crystal brain. " - -Adam Carolla Today the famous Lumpy Rat paper was published by Seralini and colleagues.  I should say RE-published because it is basically the same content published in 2012, that was later retracted from the journal.  Personally, I was glad to see him attempt to publish it again.  The literature is where the conversation should happen, and if the work is of good quality it will be reproduced and expanded upon.  If the work is of poor quality it will die a scientific dead end, cited only by the same authors in future papers with no additional progress.  Kind of like the rest of the Seralini work.  Unfortunately the general public doesn't follow the scientific conversation. People only pick the monologues they agree with, and a single flawed study from a biased lab carries as much weight (or more) than a thousand agreeing reports from 800 different groups.  It was disappointing to see that S

Voyager's Gold Record- Vintage Technology for Extraterrestrial Audiophiles

I'm a huge Sagan fan, and even today I am surprised at how well his words and the 70's series resonate gloriously.  But WTF is with the Gold Record on Voyager?  The records were constructed of copper with a gold plating and contain Sounds of Earth, featuring the audible signatures of our planet from birds to Chuck Berry playing guitar. The records were placed on both Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977 and now are somewhere out past Pluto.  Sagan noted, " The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced space-faring   civilizations   in interstellar space." That is, if they have a turntable.  Shot into space, any extraterrestrial can enjoy "Sounds of Earth". If they have a good thrift shop they might find a way to play the damn thing. Of course, back in the 70's we were pretty sure that the LP was here to stay.  I remember thinking they should have shot the KISS Alive II double album into space too. The p

DNA Damage and Glyphosate? Critical Evaluation of a 2007 Report

A question appeared over on and I thought I'd take a stab at it.  I remember looking at it briefly awhile ago, but it didn't stick in my brain.  Maybe because it was not worth sticking there. Last night I took a critical look at this work.  If you take the time to read it you find that even the authors have many mundane explanations for the results.  However, the title becomes a headline and is part of the glyphosate=danger mantra repeated by low-science-resolution readers that seek confirmation of their biases.  Judging by the capitalization in the question, the person with the question even cut-n-pasted the title. Not too many calories being expended to sort out this mystery!  However, education is my goal, so here goes...  Question on GMOanswers :  Can you comment on this study about DNA damage due to Roundup Evaluation of DNA damage in an Ecuadorian population exposed to glyphosate? The report you refer to is Paz-y-MiƱo et al., (2007), a "Short C

Biotech Literacy Day Talks!

For all of you that could not see the Biotech Literacy Day talks in real time- here are the links!  If they don't work on the click, cut and paste! You may have to download the small SilverLight Plugin! 1. Dr. Kevin Folta  UF/IFAS Horticultural Sciences Department     Genetically Engineered Crops in 2014:  What Are They and How Do They Work?  -  24 minutes 2. Dr. Bruce Chassy  University of Illinois@Urbana-Champaign               "Risks vs. Benefits  Health, Safety and Environment"   - 36 minutes 3. Dr. Val Giddings  Innovation Technology & Information Foundation       "Public Policy, Testing, Labeling, Patents"  -   27 minutes 4. Tamar Haspel  The Washington Post 

Can't Get Seeds for Independent Research?

One of the most lame complaints levied by those opposed to trangenic technology is that scientists just can't get seeds to do the independent research.  I've noted 3-4 ways that seeds may be obtained in this blog over time. It is the laziest complaint- a sure sign of people not even willing to do cursory leg work, and simply parrot the junk people tell them.  I can get seeds in a few days- they are as close as your local seed catalog.  Just for fun, I looked in Hummert's catalog today. The 2014 catalog has transgenic seeds for sale.   They only sell 'roundup ready' sweet corn, but that's still something.  Anyone wanting to seriously examine the product certainly could, and any of the half-dozen or so scientists that claim that this is evil technology could do it too-- if they wanted to.  Top of page 16- Oh, I guess it is pretty easy to get.  Of course, there are a few technical issues at play.  First, you'll have to sign a contr

Teaching Children to Love Science

One of the most important parts of my job is connecting science to the children of our community.  I was fortunate to have parents and teachers that fostered and encouraged my participation from the beginning, and some of the most memorable times in school were based on a simple experiment with curious results.  Here's a video of one of my visits to a local elementary school with two PMCB graduate students.