GMO

There's no nice way to put this. Academia is in the midst of self-destructing, not just in the United States but worldwide.

Recall that, just two months ago, Fresno State Professor Randa Jarrar went on a hate-filled Twitter rant against the recently deceased Barbara Bush. Her diatribe was so vile, that the university investigated the possibility of terminating or disciplining her. But, nothing happened, despite the fact that a video surfaced of her praising airplane hijackings (1:07) and making a sexual gesture at students (2:02).

Just a week later, the University of...

There's a lot of money to be made in kowtowing to the latest dietary fads and unsubstantiated health scares. As a result, organic products -- which are sold to people based on the myths that they are safer, healthier, and tastier than conventional products -- are now a nearly $50-billion-industry in the U.S.

Other companies have noticed and jumped aboard the bandwagon. If there is money to be made, they are eager to throw science under the bus in order to prey on a scientifically illiterate populace. The proliferation of ridiculous labels -- from...

The regulatory concerns about genetic modification of animals that I wrote about a while ago have moved towards a Congressional spotlight. Pigs have been genetically modified to resist porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus by deleting a gene. Does deleting a gene make them genetically modified - yes and no, depending on which regulatory agency you ask. 

The virus

The viral disease is carried by pigs and results in an acute phase with increased fetal and peri-natal deaths as well as a more chronic respiratory phase in the piglet survivors and their moms. As with our own experience with viral infections, they are difficult to eradicate. It is highly...

Monsanto, perhaps to rebrand itself, and certainly to remain a leader in agricultural biotech has helped establish and fund Pairwise Plants a start-up using CRISPR-Cas9 technologies to modify seeds. They have given the new company money and their vice-president of global biotechnology to head the start-up, so this is a strategic business move not simply hedging their bets. This is important because CRISPR-Cas9 may genetically modify a crop, but it doesn’t necessarily result in a genetically modified organism, the dreaded GMO. To understand how that can be, we need to understand both genetic modification and federal regulations.

Mutagenesis

Mutagenesis broadly refers to creating a change in DNA (a mutation), and until the advent of agriculture, about 10,...

Reputations are a funny thing. It takes years to build them but mere seconds to destroy them.

Cargill, a company that provides all manner of agricultural products and services, has managed to ruin its reputation with farmers and science writers in a single tweet. On March 17, the company announced its partnership with the thoroughly wretched Non-GMO Project*, an anti-biotech organization that sticks a goofy "non-GMO verified" label on everything from water to kitty litter.

Here's the tweet:

And the flood gates swung open wide. The backlash was swift, brutal, and...

We were recently contacted by a concerned group of pro-science scholars who wants to counter the unscientific arguments made by anti-GMO activist Vandana Shiva. We made this handy flyer for them. Then, we realized that this could be useful for anybody who needs to confront the anti-GMOers in their lives.

So, here it is. Feel free to print and distribute as widely as possible! 

I have been a long-time reader of Pacific Standard (once called Miller-McCune), a publication that tries to be the West Coast equivalent of The Atlantic. That is a fine mission because, as a Seattleite, I am keenly aware that there aren't many West Coast media outlets that capture the attention of the rest of the nation. 

When I was still editor of RealClearScience (RCS), I frequently linked to Pacific Standard's content, particularly articles produced by Tom Jacobs, who was and continues to be a fine social science writer. However, in recent months, the magazine as a whole has become nearly unreadable. As its political cheerleading becomes more and more blatant, its standards for science journalism have fallen. I don't think that is...

There is something nauseatingly ingenious about the Huffington Post. A website that rose to prominence by shamelessly copying and pasting other people's work, it proudly refuses to pay most of its writers and has almost no editorial standards. In 2011, this journalistic dumpster fire was sold to AOL for $315 million. Utterly brilliant. It's like robbing a bank and having the police pay you for community service.

One of the latest contributions from HuffBlow to the national dialogue comes courtesy of self-described teenage "food safety activist"...

Credit: Etsy Credit: Etsy

Despite the common notion among Americans that Europe is a progressive, technologically advanced utopia, the reality is that the continent -- when it comes to matters of science -- is rather backward. (ACSH President Hank Campbell and I said that long before it was cool to say that.) Now, a very harsh report in the most recent issue of Trends in Biotechnology underscores the infuriating extent of the problem.

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shutterstock_291398375Don’t you hate it when you buy a bag of mushrooms at the store and by the next day, the whole bag has turned brown and needs to be thrown out? Well, now there is a way to prevent that frustration and food waste.

A group at Pennsylvania State University has engineered a mushroom that does not brown using the genetic altering mechanism known as CRISPR/Cas9, and those researchers are preparing to get it into a grocery store near you.

The difference between this CRISPR mushroom and your “garden-variety” GMO is in how its genome was altered. Traditional GMOs contain DNA from...