Tag Archives | Genetic Engineering

Genetically Modified Mosquitoes May Be Set Loose In Florida

As if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wasn’t upsetting non-GMO activists enough already with its approvals of GM crops, it may now approve genetically modified mosquitoes from British biotech firm Oxitec. The goal is to combat the spread of the alarmingly painful and incurable chikungunya virus and dengue fever (a/k/a “break-bone fever”).

Aedes aegypti biting human.jpg

Aedes aegypti mosquito biting human skin.

 

“This is essentially using a mosquito as a drug to cure disease,” said Michael Doyle, executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, which is waiting to hear if the Food and Drug Administration will allow the experiment, ” reports AP.

However, as Smithsonian Magazine describes it, even putting aside the risk of the genetic modification, this is hardly a perfect solution:

…Oxitec has focused their efforts on dengue and had some success in small-scale fieldwork in Brazil and the Cayman Islands. And in April 2014, an Oxitec trial led by the Gorgas Institute in Panama released 60,000 genetically modified A.

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Genetic Engineering Plants Outside Of Regulators’ Reach

Scotts Miracle Gro HQ Marysville1.jpg

Scotts Miracle Gro HQ by Wiki Historian N OH (CC)

Some clever biologist entrepreneurs have found a way to experiment with the genetic make up of plants without having to worry about federal oversight, reports the New York Times:

Its first attempt to develop genetically engineered grass ended disastrously for the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company. The grass escaped into the wild from test plots in Oregon in 2003, dooming the chances that the government would approve the product for commercial use.

Yet Scotts is once again developing genetically modified grass that would need less mowing, be a deeper green and be resistant to damage from the popular weedkiller Roundup. But this time the grass will not need federal approval before it can be field-tested and marketed.

Scotts and several other companies are developing genetically modified crops using techniques that either are outside the jurisdiction of the Agriculture Department or use new methods — like “genome editing” — that were not envisioned when the regulations were created.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson: “GMO” Follow Up

Misunderstood scientist of the people or semantic sorcerer bought and Paid For? Recently I posted a video of  Tyson’s word on selective breeding. Well here is his follow up that he posted on Facebook. What is your input disinfonauts?

English: A warning sign with an exclamation markvia Facebook:

In fact — apart from my “chill out” quip in the video, which clearly deserved further explanation — I didn’t really vote one way or another on GMOs. You want to distinguish how genes are modified? Okay, then label everything, and create two subcategories of GMO. One that indicates laboratory and one that indicates agriculture. I said this explicitly in my Facebook post.

Furthermore, I never said GMOs were safer or more dangerous. I implied that if you think GMO-laboratory is **inherently** more dangerous to human life than GMO-agriculture you are simply wrong. They both can be bad for the environment. They both can be less healthy. They both can disrupt the local flora and fauna.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson on Anti-GMO Movement

I often agree with Neil deGrasse Tyson; However it appears to me that he’s either deliberately withholding information here, and/or he doesn’t fully know what he’s talking about. What’s your input disinfonauts?

In science, ‘fact’ can only mean ‘confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.’ I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.

Stephen Jay Gould

Pardon the vertical video.  They must not have seen this PSA. Just say no to vertical video.

via IFL Science

There has been a considerable amount of discussion and debate regarding the safety of genetically modified food. Though the topic has been researched over and over again, there isn’t evidence that eating conventional produce will cause disease, despite whatever the scientifically-illiterate Food Babe has to say. In fact, over 2000 studies have found GM food to be perfectly safe.

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Genetic Engineering and Our Obsession with Beauty

chu20140727aBut once we learn how to democratize movie-star looks through genetic engineering, will we be satisfied? Most likely not. As looks become less of a differentiator, we will appreciate other personal characteristics more, such as kindness and intelligence.”

via Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies:

A Korean woman was on the verge of divorce because her husband no longer found her attractive and was having an affair. Nothing worked in her efforts to save the marriage and as a last resort she underwent cosmetic surgery. The result was so dramatic and her son didn’t recognize her when she returned home.

Even more dramatic was her husband’s attitude towards his new “goddess”: no more mention of divorce, and he was now  willing staying at home all the time! This seems to be a true story as the woman appeared on a TV show. Unfortunately the show is in Korean, but you can see many amazing “before-and-after” faces on this short video.

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In Defense of GMOs

PDB 1gmo EBIHear him out before you comment, y’all! Self-described liberal Saul of Hearts finds things to like regarding GMOs, if not Monsanto, writing at Medium:

Let me get a few things out of the way.

I’m a crazy fucking hippie. I go to Burning Man every year. I teach yoga. I live in a co-op. For the past two years I’ve been delivering organic vegetables for a local delivery service. I’ve been eating vegetarian for years, and vegan for the past four months.

I’m also fascinated by genetics. I read every book that comes my way on evolutionary theory, population genetics, and mapping the genome. I took several classes on the subject at the University of Pennsylvania. All told, I have a pretty solid understanding of how genes work.

And ultimately, I’m just not that scared of GMOs.

Now don’t get me wrong. I understand where my liberal friends are coming from.

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Glowing Plants Coming to a Streetlamp Near You?

A night sky lit only by stars and glowing plants sounds pretty awesome, but I can’t believe that there wouldn’t be unforeseen consequences. I’d hate to have to explain to our great grandchildren that they’re living in a world full of glowing, genetically polluted foodstuffs because our generation thought it sounded cool at the time.

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Uruguayan Scientists Create Healthy Glow-In-The-Dark Sheep

It has been announced that nine sheep born this past October at Uruguay's Institute of Animal Reproduction have been developing normally and living contentedly. The sheep were genetically engineered to contain a gene from a jellyfish which spurs the production of green fluorescent protein, a modification which will no doubt soon be a common one for designer house pets:
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China’s Massive Eugenics Project To Choose High-IQ Embryos

Via Edge.org, NYU evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller on how the biggest eugenics push in history is just unfolding, which he feels will dramatically shape the future:

China has been running the world’s largest and most successful eugenics program for more than thirty years, driving China’s ever-faster rise as the global superpower. When I learned about Chinese eugenics this summer, I was astonished that its population policies had received so little attention. China makes no secret of its eugenic ambitions, in either its cultural history or its government policies.

The BGI-Shenzhen Cognitive Genomics Project is currently doing whole-genome sequencing of 1,000 very-high-IQ people around the world, hunting for sets of sets of IQ-predicting alleles. I know because I recently contributed my DNA to the project, not fully understanding the implications. These IQ gene-sets will be found eventually—but will probably be used mostly in China, for China.

Potentially, the results would allow all Chinese couples to maximize the intelligence of their offspring by selecting among their own fertilized eggs for the one or two that include the highest likelihood of the highest intelligence.

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