QOn what way genetic engineering affects the issue on gmo labeling?

On what way genetic engineering affects the issue on gmo labeling?

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QOn what way genetic engineering affects the issue on gmo labeling?

On what way genetic engineering affects the issue on gmo labeling?

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QOn what way gmo labeling affects genetic engieering

On what way gmo labeling affects genetic engieering

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By • November 17, 2017

The following is an excerpt of an article in the Arizona State University student newspaper, The State Press, about a student in the plant genetics department. 

Bruno Rozzi had just finished his sophomore year as a finance student at ASU when he came across a genetics book he had read once in high school.

Two years later, he was in a rainforest in Panama researching animal genetics for the Smithsonian Institute.

“I was set on doing finance, but I kind of liked doing science stuff back in the day – that's what I enjoyed,” Rozzi said.

Now Rozzi is one of four undergraduate students selected to work with four doctors at ASU’s Gaxiola Lab, which is a plant genetics research lab.

His team is working on ways to grow crops in unusual climates.

Rozzi said the team hopes their work will dispel pre-conceived notions that genetically modified crops are unhealthy.

“We’re trying to prove that GMO’s aren’t terrible," Rozzi said. "We’re doing it so plants will grow stronger by themselves, not with pesticides."

The technique involves pumping a complex proton gene into the plant’s roots, making it easier for the plant to grow with less attention and nutrients. 

To read the entire article, please visit The State Press website. 

By • November 17, 2017

The following is an excerpt of an article in the University of Georgia student newspaper, The Red & Black, about the safety of GMOs. 

At the 2017 D.W. Brooks Lecture and Award held on Nov. 7 in the Georgia Center’s Mahler Auditorium, molecular biologist Nina Fedoroff gave her talk entitled, "The GMO Wars: What do we do when scientists and citizens deeply disagree?"

Genetically modified organisms allow scientists to modify crops to eliminate undesirable traits. According to Fedoroff, GMOs are necessary to sustain the growing population but have an unfair reputation as being unsafe.

“GMOs have been blamed for farmer suicides in India, tumors in rats, every manner of human count, from autism to obesity and infertility to cancer,” Fedoroff said. “But none of this is true. There is a growing body of what can only be called fake science about GMOs.” 

As an example of this “fake science,” Fedoroff cited a common, flawed study about tumors in rats caused by genetically modified corn. The study was retracted by its publication, but Fedoroff said it continues to be used against GMOs. 

To read the entire article, please visit The Red & Black website

By • November 16, 2017

The following is an excerpt of an article by Jenny Splitter at the popular website Mental Floss explaining the basics of GMOs. 

 If you've followed the debate about GMOs with any sort of regularity, there's a strong chance you've come across a picture of a tomato stabbedby a giant syringe. That image, though a complete fiction, seems to perfectly capture what's preventing public acceptance of these foods: We don't really know what makes something a GMO.

GMOs aren't made with syringes and, at the moment, they aren't even made with tomatoes, at least not commercially. But that false image is everywhere, and surveys indicate consumers fear GMOs without knowing much about them.

So what exactly is a GMO?


The initialism stands for "genetically modified organism," but it's a term lacking scientific precision. Moreover, it's hard to find an organism in any way connected to humans that hasn't been genetically modified, says Alison Van Eenennaam, a geneticist at UC-Davis who specializes in animal biotechnology. "I might argue that a great Dane or a Corgi are 'genetically modified' relative to their ancestor, the wolf," she tells Mental Floss. "'GMO' is not a very useful term. Modified for what and why is really the more important question.”

GMOs are often described as if they were a recent invention of our industrial food system, but genetic modification of food isn't new at all. It's been happening for many millennia: As long as farmers have been saving high-performing seeds for future harvests, we've had GMOs. Perhaps the earliest known example of a GMO is the sweet potato, which scientists believe became modified when wild sweet potatoes became infected, quite naturally, by a particular kind of soil bacteria. Realizing these sweet potatoes were edible, people began saving the seeds and cultivating them for future harvests. That was about 8000 years ago.

These days, when people say "GMO," they tend to mean one particular modification method that scientists refer to as transgenesis. As Van Eenennaam explains, transgenesis is "a plant-breeding method whereby useful genetic variation is moved from one species to another using the methods of modern molecular biology, also known as genetic engineering."

Transgenic crops and animals have been modified with the addition of one or more genes from another living organism, using either a "gene gun," Agrobacteria—a genus of naturally occurring bacteria that insert DNA into plants—or electricity, in a process called electroporation.

To read the entire article, please visit Mental Floss

QHow are are GMOs currently affecting the environment, and are the effects expected to change in the future? Are there any environmental risks associated with GMOs?

How are are GMOs currently affecting the environment, and are the effects expected to change in the future? Are there any environmental risks associated with GMOs?

By • November 09, 2017

The following is an excerpt of a press release posted to the Texas A&M AgriLife website announcing the results of a new study that could help water efficiency in plants. 

A discovery by Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists in Dallasprovides new insights about the biological or circadian clock, how it regulates high water-use efficiency in some plants, and how others, including food plants, might be improved for the same efficiency, possibly to grow in conditions uninhabitable for them today.

The scientists in their study, published in the journal Genome Biology and Evolution at http://bit.ly/2xOZr1M, identify 1,398 transcription factors, proteins that regulate expression of certain genes in pineapple. Of those, nearly half exhibited time-of-day specific or diurnal gene expression patterns, which could be important in uncovering the genetic controls for water use in plants.


“This is an important step in understanding the overall circadian regulation of water-efficient photosynthesis and how that efficiency might be replicated in other plants, namely food crops,” said Dr. Qingyi Yu, AgriLife Research associate professor of plant genomics in Dallas.

Her team’s study comes on the heels of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, awarded this year for discoveries related to the molecular mechanisms that control circadian rhythm.

Yu’s group focused on pineapple, a water-efficient tropical plant that uses crassulacean acid metabolism or CAM photosynthesis. During photosynthesis, CAM plants open their stomata at night to facilitate water-efficient gas exchange compared to C3 plants, whose less water-efficient gas exchange occurs during the day. The majority of food crops, including rice, wheat, soybean and cotton, use C3 photosynthesis.

To learn more about this research, please visit the Texas A&M AgriLife website

By • November 08, 2017

The following is a crossposting of a blog post by The Farm Babe (Michelle Miller) at the site Ag Daily noting that farmers should embrace common goals. 

I sometimes feel like we live in a world of extremes. Are you a Republican or a Democrat? Are you pro-this, which means you’re anti-that? People want you to take sides — join a tribe.

But what if there was a beautiful common ground? What if, instead of creating a divide, we brought people together? Is it possible for ideas to coexist? In farming, it doesn’t matter if you’re big or small, organic or not. Any farmer can do a good job, regardless of size or label. We all care about animal welfare, soil health, and the environment, among other things.

For me, I’m probably the most neutral person you’ll ever meet. I appreciate all ideas of religion and politics, for example. I’m quite open minded. I want to hear all sides of every topic and am always open to evidence to change my mind. Sadly, I feel I’m in the minority, and many folks are engrained in certain beliefs, refusing to challenge their dogma.

Recently, I found out a soil health expert was coming to speak in our area about water quality. While I appreciate his knowledge on soil health, the misinformation he spreads about GMOs and how farmers should all go organic is just not true. As I’ve previously mentioned here, conservation is a huge part of the job description regardless of label. There are so many myths out there about GMOs, perpetuated at the industry level by organic food companies or “Non GMO”-branded labels. Everyone is trying to sell something — food companies want a bigger piece of the money pie. So when this speaker shares his knowledge of soil health, he has never been a conventional row crop grower, and it undermines his credibility to claim that only organic farmers care about the soil and water. This couldn’t be further from the truth!

I call out this as an example — not to undermine organic whatsoever, but to challenge the views of people like this who feel the need to spread lies or misinformation about the competitor. There is nothing wrong with someone being organic or not, but let’s not change public perception based on bias. The same thing goes for the hardcore GMO lovers who feel the need to undermine small organic farms as being detrimental. If someone would like to share their knowledge of a specific topic, that is great, but they shouldn’t have to put down other methods to sell their message. Stick to the facts, not a persuasive or myth filled agenda. Some folks need to belittle others in order to make themselves feel better. This is a lesson we even learned back in grade school when the bullies would pick on other kids to make themselves feel better, but that doesn’t make it right.

There are some large-scale farmers that treat animals better than small scale. There are some small-scale ones that do it better than the big guys. Sometimes organic farms don’t have to spray chemicals, but this also rings true for non-organic. Sometimes organic farms spray more pesticides than non-organic, sometimes it’s the opposite. It boils down to management or pest pressure, not label. In terms of differences and importances of all aspects, check out this awesome TED Talk by Pamela Ronald. This is a beautiful example of a plant geneticist working on improving crops through GMO technology, while being married to an organic farmer. This example of harmonious coexistence is one we should all be able to honor and realize that it takes a village. It really does takes all types.

Let’s try to see every farming operation for what it is: good salt of the earth people trying to make a living and feed themselves, their communities, or the world. Everyone is special. Everyone creates family memories and puts food on the table in an impactful way, whether that impact is for one child or 1 million. Don’t hate, celebrate!

I would say our farm is medium-sized in the grand scheme of things across the country. You can find me at small local farmers markets, selling our private label farm fresh meats, but you’ll also see some pretty big equipment tending to a couple thousand acres while we farm full time. No hobby here for us — its legitimately how we make our living. Despite our farm size, I’ve been to so many other farms from small hobbies to huge CAFOs with hundreds of thousands of animals. I’ve been impressed with all different aspects and can see the strengths and weaknesses of all different methods. So before judging, take some tours. Askand learn from folks who do things differently than you. You just may be pleasantly surprised when you open your mind and welcome new ideas.

Michelle Miller, the Farm Babe, is an Iowa-based farmer, public speaker and writer, who lives and works with her boyfriend on their farm which consists of row crops, beef cattle, and sheep. She believes education is key in bridging the gap between farmers and consumers.

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