Editorial Summary of the National Academy of Science’s Consensus Report on Genetically Engineered Foods

This morning, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released a consensus report titled “Genetically Engineered (GE) Crops: Experiences & Prospects”. You can download the full 400 page report which includes a four page summary here. The public release of the report was accompanied by a webcast including a presentation of the report followed by a … Continue reading Editorial Summary of the National Academy of Science’s Consensus Report on Genetically Engineered Foods

So you heard GMOs are banned in Europe…

The lowdown: The European Union has approved the cultivation of one GMO and importation of many (with more on the horizon). The European Commission and European Academies Science Advisory Council, like other government and scientific associations around the world, supports the evidence-based conclusion that GMOs currently on the market are not any less safe than  their … Continue reading So you heard GMOs are banned in Europe…

So you heard GMOs cause “superweeds”….

The low down: Superweed is a misleading term used to describe weeds that are resistant to an herbicide. It is conceptually possible that certain, herbicide-resistant GMOs could contribute to an increase in herbicide-resistant weeds; however, such concerns are not limited to GMOs, but are relevant for any crops used in conjunction with herbicides. The details: First of all, what is a superweed? According to the Weed Science Society of America (WSAA), there is “no science-based definition for superweed,” but the term is often used to describe herbicide-resistant weeds. Just as overuse of one particular antibiotic promotes the spread of bacteria resistant to that antibiotic, overuse of an herbicide can result in herbicide-resistant weeds. According to Rick Boydston of the USDA-ARS...

If we’re going to label GMOs, let’s do it sensibly

In my last “Let’s talk biotech” post, I discussed how challenging it is to define whether a genetically improved plant is technically a “GMO”. Determining if a given food item contains genetically modified ingredients is even more difficult. There has been a lot of recent discussion about GMO labeling. On one side, you’ll hear that … Continue reading If we’re going to label GMOs, let’s do it sensibly

What is a GMO? This seemingly simple question is difficult to answer, and it’s about to get a whole lot tougher.

It’s no mystery that GMO stands for genetically modified organism, but what exactly does that mean? You might have heard claims like: “we’ve been genetically modifying organisms for centuries” That's arguably true. Modern corn is about as similar to its ancestor “teosinte” as corgis are to wolves. Breeding has allowed us to select for useful … Continue reading What is a GMO? This seemingly simple question is difficult to answer, and it’s about to get a whole lot tougher.