Showing posts from February, 2017

Food Babe Vani Hari Attacking Public Scientists Again

When I hear that Vani Hari is bashing me again my eyes roll back in my head.  We have a significant citrus crisis in my state, I have lots of great science happening in the lab, and I sadly regret not being able to take many potential speaking engagements because I simply don't have the time.  It pains me to have to respond here. My rule is -- she's irrelevant, let her write what she wants, nobody really listens to her anyway.  But let's use this opportunity to talk about something important-- Trust.  I've worked very hard in public science for 30 years. My paycheck, and for the most part my research, has been funded by State or Federal sources.  I work for you.  I have worked hard to earn your trust.  Her recent libelous post is an exercise in eroding the trust I have earned. I address her most recent allegations because I want scientists, and the general public, to start standing up for science and taking away her trust.  She is an internet sell-ebrity, and wh

Imagine - Standing Up for Science

I'm going to catch a lot of grief for today's post. There was a very nice pro-science rally in Boston today.  Lots of people! That's good.  If there is something that scientists should be excited and fighting for it is gene editing. The USA will potentially regulate it to death.  We have a choice to influence its regulation with the FDA. The FDA public comment period on the use of gene editing has been up for a month.  There are a total of 162 comments now.  The vast majority look like this: Help me understand the disconnect. How is it that we can get 1000 people to march with a sign for an afternoon, but we can't get 10 to write a thoughtful, evidence-based note about enabling technology? Pseudoscience is running rampant in the space.  Why doesn't anyone want to stand up for science?   What am I missing here?   

Massive Consumption of Soy Milk and Herbicides for Five Weeks Might Make Your Sperm Weird

In the ongoing war on glyphosate, Carey Gillam posted a link on Twitter highlighting a newly-published article.  The article comes from a team of Brazilian scientists that fed developing male rats massive amounts of soymilk, and then massive amounts of soy milk spiked with gigantic doses of herbicide (not just glyphosate).  They then analyzed factors potentially related to reproductive toxicity. Did they really see it?  What did it take for it to be seen?  When people draw conclusions without actually reading the papers, the interpretations can be deceptive. The referenced work is Nardi et al.  2017.  The paper seems a little odd out of the box.  As a scientist, I don't know the rationale of pounding animals with massive doses of chemistry just to see what happens. It almost seems a little like it was done to secure the headline that Gillam and others seek.   To make this relevant, I'm ~100 kg. To achieve the amounts used in this this experiment I'd have to drink

Science Marching? Stand Up for Science Today!

A few weeks ago when the internets exploded with  news of a March for Science  in DC,  I wrote that I would not be joining . My feeling is that such things are important, but not for me. I’m using other channels on a daily basis to help broaden the understanding of science issues and improve trust in scientists. I’ve been doing that for years. This sentiment brought me angry emails and hostile tweets. Not many, but a enough to realize that my inflammatory statements like, “Not the most effective use of my time in supporting science” are not always well received with a group poised to descend on the nation’s capital. My point is a simple one. Protests and marches are fine, but are rather empty if we don’t follow up with sustained commitment to standing up for science. So as you start to put ink to poster board for that April 22 march, know that  science needs your help now. Right now.  Actually yesterday.  Your comments are needed in support of sensible Gene Editing regula

Harvard Public Health- Sadly Vilifying Conventional Ag?

A month or so ago Cleveland Clinic physician Daniel Niedes posted an inflammatory column in the local news about the dangers of vaccines, including their links to autism, etc.  The article was widely disseminated in social media under the mantle of the Cleveland Clinic, using its reputation and name to promote blatantly false claims that imperil public health.  Turns out that a rogue physician that somehow drank the pseudo-science Kool-Aid decided to spew scientifically false and dangerous opinion has vetted fact from the prestigious institution.  He was apparently reprimanded and the school took a strong, scientific stance regarding the use of vaccines as an important tool in public health. Not to be outdone, Harvard Public Health has a similar problem . Apparently an Adjunct Professor in Denmark associated with Harvard Public Health is exploiting the reputation and name of this prestigious institution to promote an agenda, and using a EU Parliament document as the vehicle.   T

Talking Biotech #68 - Brassica oleraceae, the Dog of the Plant World

Today's podcast is about Brassica oleracea a species with many forms.  Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and kohlrabi are all members of the species.  That's right, these very different forms have almost exactly the same genetics, with minor differences.  The differences were all installed by domestication.  Humans found a trait that they liked, and over the course of years they had a distinct form of the plant.  Brassica oleracea is the species of plants that have many derived forms, all a product of human selection. In this case, can we say that any of these crop plants are "natural"?  This week's discussion is led by Dr. J. Chris Pires and his students from the University of Missouri.  It is a lot like the story of dogs, where they all descend from a common grey-wolf ancestor.  Today's podcast is with Dr. J. Chris Pires and his graduate students Makenzie Mabry and R. Shawn Abrahams.