By introducing a tool commonly used to study brain function into the leaves of plants, researchers at the University of Glasgow have developed a technique that shows promise in improving the efficiency of food production by controlling how quickly plants respond to changing conditions. Not only does this method produce a more desirable solution to improving efficiency than previous methods, it also highlights the importance of employing tools in non-conventional scenarios to produce clever solutions to complex problems. Continue reading Speedy Plants for Improving Food Production Efficiency
In order to feed every human being on the planet by 2050, the world will need to produce far more food. One difficulty farmers face is finding enough fresh water. A group of scientists led by Katarzyna Glowacka, from the University of Illinois, Urbana, may have found a potential way to save farmers water. The group’s technique hinges on the stomata of plants. Stomata are … Continue reading Thirsty Plants: Can plants be genetically modified to need less water?
For as long as humans have conceived of making hybrid organisms, an ethical debate has been waged over whether or not we should. The pros and cons are vast and poignant. Each new scientific advancement towards making hybrids stokes the fire of controversy. This year, researchers presented work at a conference detailing the most recent hybrid: a sheep-human chimera. To create these chimeras, scientists used … Continue reading Scientists have created sheep that are 0.01% human
by Allison Baker figures by Lillian Horin The Arctic apple is the juiciest newcomer to produce aisles. It has the special ability to resist browning after being cut (Figure 1), which protects its flavor and nutritional value. Browning also contributes to food waste by causing unappealing bruising on perfectly edible apples. Food waste, especially for fruits and vegetables, is a major problem worldwide; nearly half … Continue reading Arctic Apples: A fresh new take on genetic engineering
AquaBounty, a Massachusetts-based company, began growing genetically modified (GM) salmon nearly three decades ago. However, it wasn’t until 2015 that the FDA approved the fish for human consumption. Health Canada made the same decision in 2016. While a current law prevents US sales until a labeling system is established, Canada has imported roughly 5 tons of the GM salmon since May 2016. Although the fish sell unlabeled, Canadians appear to be embracing the next frontier in aquaculture. Continue reading Canadians bringing genetically modified salmon to their tables
by Mary E. Gearing figures by Kristen Seim Summary: In addition to providing energy in the form of calories, our food also supplies us with essential vitamins and other nutrients to keep us healthy. Vitamin, or “micronutrient”, malnutrition is a substantial contributor to disease. To increase micronutrient consumption, many countries fortify their food with these vitamins. Another strategy to improve vitamin intake and prevent disease, … Continue reading Good as Gold: Can Golden Rice and Other Biofortified Crops Prevent Malnutrition?
by Wen Zhou figures by Anna Maurer Summary: Among the many contentious issues related to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) under public discussion, legal issues are in the spotlight. There is debate as to how much patent protection, if any, should be granted to GMO companies, and whether the patent rights have been utilized rightfully against farmers. The court seems to be by and large standing … Continue reading The Patent Landscape of Genetically Modified Organisms
by Heather Landry Summary: The vast diversity in gene sequences are what create the large variety of plants and animals we see today. Genetic diversity is crucial for adapting to new environments, as more variation in genes leads to more individuals of a population having favorable traits to withstand harsh conditions. Low genetic diversity, on the other hand, can be very problematic during changing environments, … Continue reading Challenging Evolution: How GMOs Can Influence Genetic Diversity
by Megan L. Norris Summary: As the prevalence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) continues to rise, there has been an increasing public interest for information concerning the safety of these products. Concerns generally focus on how the GMO may affect the environment or how it may affect the consumer. One specific concern is the possibility for GMOs to negatively affect human health. This could result … Continue reading Will GMOs Hurt My Body? The Public’s Concerns and How Scientists Have Addressed Them
by Matthew Niederhuber figures by Kaitlyn Choi Summary: Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a common bacteria that has played a very uncommon role in agriculture and the development of genetically modified foods. The natural insecticidal abilities of these bacteria have made them an important pest control tool for nearly a century. While their use as a natural biopesticide is widely accepted and approved for organic applications, … Continue reading Insecticidal Plants: The Tech and Safety of GM Bt Crops