GMOs

Environmental contamination with heavy metals is often the result of various types of industrial processes. Because heavy metals can be dangerous to humans and other wildlife, contaminated sites need to be cleaned up. This isn't easy. Chemical extraction methods can introduce different types of pollutants into the environment.

Bioremediation -- using biological organisms to clean polluted areas -- is a hot area of research. Some plants can naturally sop up heavy metals without any ill effects, but plants don't always grow large enough to soak up all the pollution. Besides, plants can't be used to clean up contaminated water.

So, scientists have increasingly chosen to use the techniques of biotechnology to create genetically engineered microbes capable of gobbling up...

One final observation on our great post-war successes in controlling malaria by targeting its vector, the Anopheles mosquito. By using that most marvelous insecticide DDT, we were beginning to gain the upper hand in our conquest of malaria as clearly demonstrated in the table below.

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Country

Malaria occurrence per annum prior to introduction of DDT

Malaria occurrence per annum after the introduction of DDT

Sardinia

Having spent the weekend at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Boston, with a theme of science policy, I have been immersed in a four-day, non-stop conversation about the relationship between scientists and "the public."

In thinking about the gap that exists, at least anecdotally, between the public and scientists on scientific issues, I looked for data on exactly how wide that gap is. 

The Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank that conducts polling and collects data, asked scientists and non-scientists their opinions on various scientific topics: GMOs, global warming, pesticide usage, etc. The results are not surprising - there is a big gap between what those two groups think. The question is - why? And, what can be done to...

The controversy over Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) lives on, despite the scientific community's best efforts to quell the scaremongering.    

In fact, GMOs are the scientific issue with the widest gap in understanding between scientists and the public, with 88% of scientists reporting that GMOs are safe to eat, as compared to just 37% of the public. One of the reasons for that gap is that scientists understand the biology behind how GMOs are created and why they are not harmful. But, lacking that understanding leaves a lot of space for fear and uncertainty.  

Even worse, as GMOs become even more complicated, the gap in understanding is bound to get larger.

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Why America's supposed newspaper of record has become a voice for anti-biotechnology food activists remains a profound mystery. The only plausible explanation is that this is calculated; the New York Times must be tailoring its reportage to its customers, who consist mostly of well-to-do, organic-food-eating elites. Evidence plays little to no role in the paper's coverage of controversial scientific issues.

Michael Pollan serves as a case-in-point. In one of his most recent articles, he bashes modern agriculture and casually libels pro-biotech organizations (like ACSH) with whom he disagrees. Few journalists and even fewer...

John Podesta, campaign manager and a close advisor to Hillary Clinton, believes the government has not divulged everything it knows about UFOs and Area 51. Given his predilection for conspiratorial beliefs, it probably shouldn't come as a surprise that he has a fear of biotechnology.

WikiLeaks has made public thousands of Mrs. Clinton's emails. Normally, a politician's campaign machinations would not be of interest to ACSH. However, Stephan Neidenbach, purveyor of the website We Love GMOs and Vaccines, combed through the emails and discovered that certain influential members of the Clinton campaign hold pseudoscientific beliefs about GMOs. The campaign also...

I must break from my tradition of writing articles in the 3rd person to relate an important story that affects me personally.

I first learned about GMOs as a sophomore microbiology major in college. (They weren't called GMOs then; they were simply referred to as "transgenic crops.") I remember feeling exhilarated -- the sort of thrill that only accountants or geeky academics can usually understand -- at how basic knowledge of DNA sequences was leading to a huge technological revolution. The opportunities were limitless. 

Years later I entered journalism. And I saw breathtaking ignorance and vitriol aimed at scientists like me coming from supposedly educated people. Never in a million years would I have anticipated that our passion for science would be used as a...

Credit: Shutterstock Credit: Shutterstock

My wife, who was born and raised in Poland, once told me what it was like to go to school in that country. In her classes, which largely focused on the hard sciences, the most popular students were the smart ones. Students looked up to their intelligent, hard-working colleagues. When she came to the United States as a high school exchange student, she found the exact opposite to be true. The smart students were the outcasts, while the...

shutterstock_383246326According to a news report in USA Today, the General Mills company has decided that "if you can't fight 'em, join 'em, with respect to the necessity of labeling foods containing GMO ingredients in the state of Vermont.

Like Campbell Soup, the company has determined that it would be prohibitively complicated to try to meet different requirements...

Salt Warning!Under the heading of governmental overreach, two new doozies caught my attention:

1. In the Big Apple, a New York State Supreme Court Judge Eileen Rakower upheld the Mayors Bloomberg-DeBlasio mandate to place "Danger: Lots Of Salt!" warnings on certain restaurants' food offerings containing what the regulatory overseers deem dangerous to our health. Meaning, over 2,300 mg of sodium, which authorities including the American Heart Association and the CDC assert is the upper...