Showing posts from April, 2017

Bill Nye Saves the Silo

Preaching to the choir, the first episode makes a critical scicomm 101 mistake.   I was pretty psyched to hear that Bill Nye was part of a new series, Bill Nye Saves the World .  The Netflix show promised to bring a science to a popular audience, and would not shy away from hot-button issues.  This kind of science programming is important. We live at a time where the very process of science must be applied more vigorously to analyzing critical issues-- yet politics, belief and popular culture push back to limit its application or the results it brings.  Last night I watched the climate change episode-- and here is my review.  Preface First of all, let me state that I appreciate what Nye brings to the table. He is an established, visible personality that clearly has an audience. His brand resonates with many science enthusiasts, and it does with me too. His following is loyal, which is why any criticism of The Science Guy earns you harsh flames from passionate followers, even

Renewed Attacks on Science Communication

Today I posted some rather positive news. Students from my lab visited a school and taught six kindergarten classes how seeds grow, and we provided a seedling to over 150 students.  Each plant was in a test tube and could be planted in the garden later.  The idea is to get kids to connect to science and grow healthy food in their homes.  The materials were paid for from my science outreach program.  A tweet about planting seeds with grade school kids ignites a hate storm.  But on the eve of the Science March, the idea of kids participating in STEM is apparently a threat to many.  This, along with a comment from a Purdue faculty member about my  talk yesterday ignited the hate.  Undisclosed kickbacks?  So I posted a link to my funding history, which includes no funding from Monsanto.  Zero.  Then Gary Ruskin, from the industry-sponsored front group US-Right To Know, posts a letter from Monsanto to me obtained freely from my FOIA'd emails. The company agre

What Is a Specialty Crop?

You need to be eating more Specialty Crops. What's a "specialty crop"? This week's podcast is a wonderful conversation with Politico Senior Food and Ag Reporter Helena Bottemiller Evich!

When GMO Plants Escape

This week's Talking Biotech Podcast is an interview with Dr. Paul Vincelli and Dr. Carol Mallory-Smith from Oregon State University.  Dr. Mallory-Smith has studied gene flow in grasses, and has charted the movement of transgenic creeping bentgrass genes in wild populations.  This is an important story to know, as it frames an important risk in the cultivation of transgenic crops. 

Wild Turkey and Misplaced Risk

* (Asterisk up front)  I like whiskey.  This is not a rant against booze, it is a rant against misplaced risk and consumer deception.  I saw this tonight in the Twitterverse and it just about blew me away. There is a potential that this is a POE or April Fool's Prank. There is no comparison between the risk associated with biotech-plant-derived ingredients and the alcohol in beverages. Bad marketing angle to get people critically evaluating the risks of what they are consuming when you sell a known carcinogen.  Bourbon is made from fermenting corn, rye and barley, so I guess some genetically engineered corn could make its way into the mix. But over the last twenty years there is not one case of GE corn being a health risk-- and no clear way that it could be and not be realized pretty quickly.  We're talking a perfect safety record.  On the other hand, Wild Turkey proudly touts plenty of ethanol.  Ethanol is the alcohol that deliciously underlies the psychoa