The next generation of extreme biotechnology needs you!

Real Vanilla

If you happened to read the recent New York Times Article “What’s That Smell, Exotic scents made from re-engineered yeast”, you may be feeling concerned about this new form of extreme genetic engineering. If you are also a creative being, there may be an opportunity to combine your concern with your artistic energy.  Continue reading

Let’s give Eve a better apple?

Snake in the gardenThere’s a new apple variety out there created in laboratories that could be coming to your store in early 2014. It looks and smells like an apple but with one distinct difference, the molecules that express its genes have been tinkered with.

The creators of this genetically engineered apple hail it as “Nature at Its Best”. They go on to say “We all love apples! Until they turn brown, that is. Arctic® apples are everything you love about apples, without the “yuck” factor…”  Continue reading

Battleground I-522: what’s at stake and why now?

English: Digital Elevation map of Washington s...

English: Digital Elevation map of Washington state. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In less than a week the people of Washington State will decide whether most raw agricultural commodities, processed foods and seeds using genetic engineering (GE) will be labeled when offered for retail sale. A “yes” vote on 522 would give Washington shoppers more information about what’s in their food and control over their shopping decisions. Under this initiative, genetically engineered foods to be labeled would include chips, cold cereals, soft drinks, candy, corn and soy.

Our food is already labeled with abundant nutritional information, including sugar, sodium, whether flavors are natural or artificial and if salmon is wild or farm-raised. Food companies are already required to label genetically engineered food in 64 other countries, so why not here? Continue reading

Synthetic Biology: The next generation of Genetic Engineering

Synthetic Biology in our handsLast week I went to the beach to take in the immense biodiversity of the marine sanctuary that is the Monterey Bay. While looking for frolicking dolphins, I noticed a number of young people with their eyes glued to their phones. It led me to reflect on how our personal time has been altered by computers and science. I recently learned that the same holds true for genetic engineering. New breakthroughs with computers and DNA strands are occurring rapidly and raising the very nature of genetic engineering to a new level.

This leads me to a question I’d like to explore in this post: What in the world is Synthetic Biology? Continue reading

The What How and Why on GMO’s

World map GMO production From Wikimedia

World map GMO production From Wikimedia

 

What are Genetically Modified Organisms?

GMO’s are plants or animals created through the process of genetic engineering. This experimental technology forces DNA from one species into a different species. The resulting GMOs are unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional breeding. The majority of GMO crops are engineered to produce Bt in their DNA.  Bt is a protein that is toxic to chewing insects and is produced by the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis and has long been used as a biological pesticide. Here is a Research Paper on the effects of Bt products in Humans.  None of the genetically engineered traits in commercial production offer increased yields, drought tolerance or nutritional superiority.  Continue reading