Recent Posts

Nanoscale movements of cellulose microfibrils in primary cell walls ($)

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Cell walls are complex mixtures of cellulose microfibrils, proteins and other materials. Their mechanical properties can be measured and modeled, but it is not always simple to translate these measurements to changes at the molecular level. Zhang et al. used atomic force microscopy to provide an unprecedented…

A Race to Save the Orange by Altering Its DNA

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New York Times article (July 27, 2013) by Amy Harmon that describes the bacterial disease of citrus, citrus greening disease, and its impact on producers of oranges and orange juice. One strategy to compbat the disease involves the use of GM technology; would consumers rather drink GM orange juice, or…

The Challenge of Food (video)

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Ideal for flipped classrooms or as a discussion starter anywhere, this 8-minute video features a science journalist and researchers explaining specific issues and solutions for meeting the challenge of feeding 9 billion people by 2050. GMO crops, the nature of science and the politics of food delivery…

EPSO Factsheets: Crop Genetic Improvement Techniques

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An excellent set of 7 fact-sheets, produced by the European Plant Science Organisation, explaining how crop genetic improvement techniques work. Fact-sheet titles are: Site-Directed Nucleases Oligonucleotide-Directed Mutagenesis RNA-directed DNA Methylation Cisgenesis Grafting using…

It’s practically impossible to define “GMOs” - Nathanael Johnson (Grist)

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"Debates rage over what to do about genetically modified organisms, but we rarely stop to ask a more basic question: Do GMOs really exist? It’s an important question, because no one in this debate can tell you precisely what a GMO is. I’ve come to the conclusion that “GMO” is a cultural construct.…

All our food is ‘genetically modified’ in some way – where do you draw the line?

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In the past week you’ve probably eaten crops that wouldn’t exist in nature, or that have evolved extra genes to reach freakish sizes. You’ve probably eaten “cloned” food and you may have even eaten plants whose ancestors were once deliberately blasted with radiation. And you could have bought…

Genetically modified (GM) plants: questions and answers

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What are genetically modified (GM) plants? Is genetic modification safe? Where are GM crops grown and eaten? Food security is one of this century's key global challenges, as noted in our earlier report Reaping the Benefits, and due to the scale of the challenge, we should really think carefully before…

Plants release chemical weapons and deploy insect armies in their defence

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From The Conversation, by Angela White. Accessible article about how plants defend themselves from herbivore. View full article

Report: Millions at risk as severe drought hits Ethiopia (September 2015)

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The California drought gets headlines, but few in California will go hungry. There's a different situation in Ethiopia, also dealing with a severe drought. Source: Aljazeera, September 5, 2015 View full article

California citrus farmers pull up trees, dig reservoirs to survive drought (Sept 2015)

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"California leads the nation in production of fruits and vegetables, its nearly 80,000 farms and ranches taking in total revenues of $46.4 billion in 2013, state data show. But the relatively dry parts of the state where much of its farming is rely on irrigation rather than rainwater, and environmental…