Just Say No to “GMO”

June 5, 2017 Kevin Folta 0

Kevin Folta explains why it’s important to use the scientifically accurate term “genetically engineered” to refer to biotech crops and animals rather than the sloppy and baggage laden “GMO”.

The Dutch Weed Burger . . . Seaweed, that is.

June 1, 2017 Guest Authors 0

Five years ago, Kulsom and his colleague Lisette Kreischer founded a company called The Dutch Weed Burger after they shot a documentary about the role of seaweed as a future source of protein. Kulsom says the company’s mission is “to work on the acceptance of seaweed becoming a part of the new paradigm.”

Enter their first product: the weed burger.

At first, a seaweed burger seems like an unusual choice, but it begins to make sense after a while.

Can We Save the Algae Biofuel Industry?

May 30, 2017 Guest Authors 0

In the last decade or so, vast amounts of money have been invested in the development of algae for biofuel production. This made sense because, ten years ago, there was a need to find alternatives to fossil fuels due to the high oil price and the increasing recognition that carbon emissions were causing climate change. Algal biofuels were touted as the answer to these twin problems, and huge investment followed.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go quite to plan.

Does Industry Funding for Research Poison the Well?

May 29, 2017 Guest Authors 0

When a research team included an industry partner, our participants were generally less likely to think the scientists would consider a full range of evidence and listen to different voices. An industry partner also reduced how much participants believed any resulting data would provide meaningful guidance for making decisions.

Six Tips to Recognize Good Science

May 18, 2017 Guest Authors 0

How can you tell good science from bad science? As the quality of peer review falters and pop science reporting relies on controversy it gets harder all the time. Here are six guidelines for separating the signal from the noise.

Have We Lost 75% of Crop Diversity? It’s Not That Simple

May 17, 2017 Guest Authors 0

Colin K. Khoury of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture looks at claims that 75% of crop diversity has been lost in the modern era. Instead, he finds that though there have been winners and losers among crops as agriculture has intensified, over the past 50 years, almost all countries’ diets actually became more diverse, not less, for the crops that FAO statistics do report.

Why the Calorie Is Broken

May 5, 2017 Guest Authors 0

Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley of Gastropod cover the history of calorie measurement and the ways calorie counting is inaccurate and unhelpful. They then look at a number of proposed alternative to nudge people towards successful weight loss.

Crop Probiotics: How More Science and Less Hype Can Help Farmers

May 1, 2017 Guest Authors 0

While crop probiotics offer an ecologically friendly option for farmers looking to improve and protect their harvests, the Australian market is far from reliable.

Our research group was asked to evaluate commercial crop probiotics. Over a year of experimentation on a sugarcane farm, we tracked the supposedly beneficial bacteria and fungi of two Australian probiotics products from soil to crop.

DNA analysis didn’t detect changes in root-associated bacteria, but the composition of root-associated fungi changed.

Facing up to Phosphorus

May 1, 2017 Guest Authors 0

Farmers around the world have come to depend on manufactured inorganic fertilizers containing key plant nutrients phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium to enhance soil fertility, especially in the otherwise poor soils of most tropical settings. But while all three are relatively abundant in nature, commercially viable sources of phosphorus to make these fertilizers could be exhausted just a few decades from now. That prospect, which remains a source of heated debate, has spurred a drive to recover the significant quantities of this element that disappear in the waste streams of cities and farms.

The Cult of Perma

April 28, 2017 Graham Strouts 0

Graham Strouts deconstructs the meaning and definition of permaculture and exposes the lack of data, rigor, and evidence to support any claims for superior productivity or environmental impact to the modes of production it is meant to serve as an alternative to.

When all is said and done, any contribution permaculture has to make will be practices that work will work independent of the whole edifice. Just as “alternative medicine” that works is just called “medicine” so anything that could be shown to work in what is called “permaculture” is simply “good farming”, “good design” or “good engineering”.

Defending Science: How the Art of Rhetoric Can Help

April 27, 2017 Guest Authors 0

When scientists gather to march for science, we want them to know about this body of research. In addition to carrying signs, they can take up the toolbox of effective communication known as the rhetorical tradition. Rhetoricians will be marching by their side, allies in the battle to protect science from politically motivated attacks on one of the greatest treasures of the nation.

(Practically) Nobody is Anti-Science

April 23, 2017 Marc Brazeau 0

As I was at the Portland, OR March for Science today, I walked past a woman who had cornered me at a March Against Monsanto rally a few years back. She had very misinformed, conspiratorial views about biotech in agriculture and when she spied my I ♥ GMOs sticker on my shirt today, she gave me a side eye and I could see her trying to decide whether to challenge me again. It was a little jarring, but not at all surprising to bump into someone who I knew rejected the scientific consensus on more than one issue at a March for Science. This essay looks at why that’s the case and how to process that fact and try to put it to some productive use.

A Genetically Engineered Organic Wheat? It Already Exists

April 18, 2017 Guest Authors 0

Whoever thought that France and organic agriculture would be world leaders for the introduction of GE (genetically engineered) wheat? A stretch? Not as much as it might seem. What follows is the story of how plant breeders engineered a unlikely new crop through a series of sophisticated “conventional” techniques to move a use gene from a wild plant into wheat, despite the fact that the two plants could not be naturally crossbred.