Rothamsted, GENeS, and science communication

In June, Rothamsted Research announced the results of a field trial of wheat they had genetically engineered to emit an insect alarm pheromone. The researchers hoped the engineered wheat would repel aphids without the need for spraying. Despite success in preliminary lab studies, the results were negative. But the way the researchers went about communicating their results was hugely positive: they held a press briefing. The fact that Rothamsted scientists were proactive in talking about what they had learned from disappointing results should be no surprise to anyone who has followed this research project. Before the experiment began, the team held another press briefing to explain to reporters how the trial would work. When a protest group under the name Take the Flour Back threatened to rip up the experimental crop, Rothamsted wrote an open letter entreating the protestors not to destroy research. They also produced a YouTube video appeal and

breadGM2

Gluten-free GM wheat can help celiac patients

Have you ever seen the popular MyPlate? It is a simple graphic to indicate the type and amount of food needed for a balanced diet in humans. If you have seen it, you will notice that a large section of the plate includes foods derived from cereals and grains, which are a great source of carbohydrates, an important biomolecule that our body uses as a primary energy source for all cells. Wheat is one of the most important grains worldwide, and you probably eat it daily in foods such as bread, cookies, waffles, sweets, pastries in general, pasta and many other dishes. Now, can you imagine a disease that does not allow you to eat any food that is prepared with wheat? It would be very difficult for me, because in my country, Chile, we generally eat bread at breakfast, lunch and dinner, in fact, we are the world’s second

cultivate01

Marching against Chipotle’s GMO myths

Today, Chipotle Mexican Grill is putting on a show in Minneapolis. Their Cultivate Festival is a public relations event that combines food, drink, music, chefs, and myths served with a side of fear, I mean guac. Attendees can choose to walk through four information booths with the promise of a free burrito at the end, which sounds great except these booths contain carefully crafted and misleading invectives against food, farming, and science. In response, the March Against Myths (MAMyths), a grassroots movement whose mission is to combat myths with facts, penned an open letter to Chipotle to ask them to correct the false and misleading statements they make about genetically engineered crops (GMOs), which was received, acknowledged, and ignored. Today, MAMyths is coming to the Chipotle Cultivate Festival to correct the misinformation and be a resource for the public to learn more about GMOs. Today, we’re marching against Chipotle’s GMO

Collage created by Kavin Senapathy

#Moms4GMOs

I had the pleasure of working with Kavin Senapathy, Alison Bernstein, and Layla Katiraee (who is also a Biofortified Blog author) this past week on an open letter from us science moms to the celebrity moms who are speaking out in support of mandatory GMO labeling. The letter is published at Grounded Parents. I hope you’ll take a look at our letter and consider adding your voice, whether you’re a mom, dad, or not a parent at all. You can use hashtag #Moms4GMOs to add your own message on social media.

Soil erosion. Photo: USDA-ARS

4 essentials for sustaining agriculture

As an irrigated cropping systems agronomist I work on ways to sustain agriculture. In doing this, I have come to realize that there are certain requirements that agriculture must meet to produce food and to keep producing food (yes, fiber too, and other non-food products, but mainly we are concerned with food production). Here are my essentials for sustaining agricultural production: Protect the soil Maintain soil fertility Use water efficiently Protect the crop