No full length post here, just a suggestion that you all go to read Mark Lynas*’ fantastic deconstruction of various anti-GMO arguments. Obviously none of the arguments mean ‘go grow GM across the world immediately!’ but he gives some lovely detailed responses to the inconsistency in various people’s thinking (e.g. how objecting to Monsanto creating a monopoly on corn should not lead to trashing open source disease tolerant papaya in Africa) and explanations of how environmental groups are doing things that simply aren’t good for the environment.
It’s long, but a very good read.
Following a decade and a half of scientific and field research, I think we can now say with very high confidence that the key tenets of the anti-GMO case were not just wrong in points of fact but in large parts the precise opposite of the truth.
This is why I use the term conspiracy theory. Populist ideas about conspiracies do not arise spontaneously in a political and historic vacuum. They result when powerful ideological narratives collide with major world events, rare occasions where even a tiny number of dedicated activists can create a lasting change in public consciousness.
The anti-GMO campaign has also undoubtedly led to unnecessary deaths. The best documented example, which is laid out in detail by Robert Paarlberg in his book ‘Starved for Science’, is the refusal of the Zambian government to allow its starving population to eat imported GMO corn during a severe famine in 2002.
Full link is here
*Mark Lynas as in the authors of Six Degrees, a pop science book about how the world would change as average global temperature increased by 1 degree, 2 degrees, 3 degrees etc… It’s basically a huge meta study of primary literature and very enjoyable. Apparently he’s good at writing about GM too – who knew?
Posted in Biology, Genetics, Science
Tagged activists, biology, conspiracy, crops, food security, genetics, GM, Mark Lynas, other blogs, science, science communication, science journalism
Back when I was blogging regularly, and when I was writing more about science news and less about the woes of being a PhD student I did a few round ups of interesting things I had read that week which I didn’t have the time to write an entire blog post of. Given how much stuff I’ve managed to stray across this week (mainly because I seem to be back on Twitter, after a long hiatus) I thought it was time for another one. Continue reading
Posted in Round Up, Science
Tagged biology, elephant, feminism, In the news, misogyny, open access, other blogs, public outreach, science, weekly round up, women in science
If you are a sufficiently regular reader that you have ever googled me directly to get here, you will know that I am not the only baking biologist on the internet. In my haste and excitement to found my blog I neglected to realise that there is another baking biologist over on blogspot. Luckily, she mainly bakes, and I mainly biologise, so there isn’t too much cross over. Then there’s Sugar Scientist and Domestic Diva MD and of course Dr Isis, Domestic Goddess. It seems that baking is quite the past time for scientists in general and biologists in particular.
We have a running joke in the lab that there should be a list of questions that we ask to interview candidates before accepting them as members. It’s really a long list of things my PI dislikes about us (in a Grumpy Old Man way, rather than a genuinely-frustrated by way). The current list stipulates that new members of the lab:
– Must not have coloured hair (in the past 12 months alone mine has been purple, scarlet, royal blue and turquoise).
– Must not own cats
– Must not knit
– Must not have or use a mobile phone, especially in the lab
– Must be strongly opposed to the construction of pylons
– Must not read fiction
– Must attend the lab day out (my PI’s favourite day of the year is when none of us come in and he can have the lab completely to himself)
And the most recent addition to the list (thankfully, added after numerous successes not failures) is that new members of the lab must demonstrate their accomplishments as a baker. Because, ultimately, molecular biology and baking are very similar to one another in pretty much every respect other than scale.
Don’t believe me? Well let me explain…
Posted in Baking, Biology, Genetics, Grad school, In the lab, Science, Things that make me laugh
Tagged baking, biology, grad school, in the lab, just for fun, other blogs, science
Here are a few odds and ends that have caught my eye over the last day or two to finish the week with.
The 523Mb draft genome for banana, Musa acuminata, has been released (more on that later) in a paper in Nature by D’Hont et al and with it this awesome Venn Diagram comparing the genes that are homologous between banana and some other important plants. (Arabidopsis is the model species for all plants – the equivalent of a lab mouse; Brachypodium is the model for grasses; Oryza is rice).
Posted in Biology, Genetics, Just me, Science
Tagged crops, genetics, genomics, other blogs, science, science communication, science journalism, scientists, weekly round up, women in science
This week the EU Commission launched a campaign called Science: It’s a girl thing designed to encourage girls to become scientists. It involved some nice shorts of female scientists talking about who they are and what they do.
Posted in Biology, In the lab, Science, Things that make me laugh, Women in Science
Tagged careers, education, FAIL, feminism, other blogs, public outreach, science, science communication, scientists, women in science
It’s been a busy few days, and in the meantime lots of other people (who may be more articulate than I am right now) have done some great coverage of the Take the Flour Back protest, and GM stuff in general. I kinda want to get out of my little Rothamsted loop and talk about something else, so here are some links to articles and blog pieces I enjoyed.
Posted in Biology, Environmentalism, Science
Tagged activists, biology, food security, genetics, GM, other blogs, scepticism, science, science communication, scientists, TtFB, weekly round up