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
by James Angstman images courtesy of Calyxt Dr. Dan Voytas, PhD. Courtesy of Calyxt. “I just got a text from my 14-year-old niece the other day, and she said, ‘Thought of a good idea for your next genetically modified treat,’” he told me. “So, you see, there’s a difference in the language, right? It’s a GMT. ‘Broccoli and asparagus in one vegetable. It should look … Continue reading Not Your Grandfather’s GMOs: An Interview with Dr. Dan Voytas
by Pierre Baduel figures by Kaitlyn Choi Summary: The legality of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) remains a controversial issue around the world, especially in Europe. Recent discoveries in the field of epigenetics, or heritable information not encoded in the DNA, have revealed promising alternatives to genetic engineering. As reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) this year, a team of British researchers … Continue reading Epigenetics in Plant Breeding: Hard Science, Soft Tool
by Charles Xu figures by Krissy Lyon Summary: People are concerned about the potential of GMO food to cause allergies. However, the technology used for making GMO crops does not necessarily make us more vulnerable than conventional breeding. Comprehensive evaluation for market approval, food safety surveillance, and adequate labeling could minimize the health risks of food allergies. Moreover, further development of technology might even enable … Continue reading Nothing to Sneeze at: the Allergenicity of GMOs
by Jennifer Hsaio figures by Krissy Lyon Summary: Pesticides are ubiquitous. Because they are used in agriculture and food production, pesticides are present at low levels in many of our diets. Less obvious is the fact that many people use pesticides around their homes, and even on their skin (i.e. in the form of insect repellents). According to the NIH, the health effects of pesticides … Continue reading GMOs and Pesticides: Helpful or Harmful?
by Jordan Wilkerson figures by Brian Chow Summary: In the history of agriculture, no technology has been adopted so quickly and completely as genetically engineered crops. Particularly useful crops are ones that have an engineered resistance to herbicides. These crops have alluring benefits: reduced crop damage when herbicides are sprayed, easier weed management, and even the potential for environmental benefits. So what’s the problem? Herbicide-resistant … Continue reading Why Roundup Ready Crops Have Lost their Allure