Former Director, International Biotechnology Program, University of California, Davis
Martina Newell-McGloughlin, Director of International Biotechnology at UC Davis, has worked in biotechnology for over 25 years and has been with the UC system since 1989. Some of her many accomplishments include directing Life and Health Sciences Research Initiatives for UC Davis and directing the UC Systemwide Biotechnology Research and Education Program for eleven years. Martina has broad experience in developing novel biotechnology research, training and education programs and experience in managing large multi-disciplinary grant programs.
Martina Newell-McGloughlin is no longer Director of International Biotechnology at UC Davis. Answers from Martina Newell-McGloughlin were provided in her former capacity as Director of International Biotechnology at UC Davis.
Studies, Articles and Answers
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A: Genetic engineering is already playing a role in protecting plants from disease, and the potential in this area is tremendous. The use of genetic engineering has the potential to help protect plants where other solutions are either impractical or ineffective. Also, the use of insecticides to control insects that are vectors for the transmission of diseases can be dramatically reduced, saving farmers time and money and protecting the environment from chemical sprays. A few examples:The Rainbow and Sunup papayas from Hawaii were genetically engineered to protect them from the papaya ringsp [...]GMO Basics How GMOs Are Made
Q: How is biodiversity impacted by the introduction of GM crops? Are the current set of crops being replace with a smaller, less biologically diverse set of GM crops?If so, is there an increased risk of a much larger-scale impact from the adaptation of infec
A: Wow, there are a lot of great questions here. I’ll answer them individually:First, how is biodiversity impacted by the introduction of GM crops? Biodiversity is actually enhanced by the adoption of GM crops. Those crops commercialized to date have reduced the impacts of agriculture on biodiversity through enhanced adoption of conservation tillage practices, through reduction of pesticide use and use of more environmentally benign herbicides and through increasing yields to alleviate pressure to convert additional land into agricultural use.Is the current set of crops being replaced with a sma [...]Environment Crop protectants
Q: How can you presume gmo's to be safe when it was only recently discovered that 4 stranded dna exists in some limited circumstances. Also, you do not even have the computing power needed to accurately predict the consequences of the organisms that you eng
A: Humans have been selectively modifying plants and animals for many millennia. For much of this time, they had little or no knowledge of what they were doing at the gene or molecular level. Over the last century, and before the introduction of modern recombinant DNA technology, several breeding methods were developed that resulted in gross changes at the molecular level, but, again, these were not characterized or often well understood. In the case of plants, these tools include modifying the chromosome number (bananas, melons, wheat), rescuing interspecific embryos that would not occur [...]GMO Basics Health & Safety
Q: It is often said that horizontal transfer of genes between unrelated species, which is the primary method used to create GMOs, is also found in nature. I know that natural horizontal gene transfer results in negative outcomes to the host such as pathogens
A: Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) or lateral gene transfer (LGT) refers to transfer of genes between organisms other than through sexual or asexual reproduction (referred to as vertical gene transfer VGT). It is quite prevalent in prokaryotes and unicellular organisms but not as common in multicellular eukaryotes. As with mutation, HGT is mostly neutral and seldom negative but occasionally provides an advantage—for example, antibiotics resistance in bacteria. And in this regard, in the simpler organisms, it has played an important role in evolution. Straight infection of organisms with just the [...]GMO Basics How GMOs Are Made
Q: Opponents of biotech enhanced crops have raised the theory that the act of alterning food crops through biotech techniques somehow introduces a novel safety risk not present with other non-regulated methods of altering the genetic endowment of food crops,
A: As mentioned previously, all breeding techniques introduce modifications at the DNA level, other than the desired change. However, I hasten to add that, despite the extensive genetic manipulation of crop plants by the many and diverse methods described previously, cases of novel or completely unexpected adverse consequences for commercialized varieties of these crops are extremely rare. Variations due to breeding and the application of modern biotechnology have been studied frequently by scientific experts sponsored by organizations such as the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organiz [...]GMO Basics Health & Safety