Have you signed the #Science14 letter yet?

A word cloud of the current signatories!

A word cloud of the current signatories!

Two weeks ago, I announced that the Cornell Alliance for Science and Biology Fortified co-sponsored an open letter to the professors and academic scientists who were targeted by the US Right to Know (USRTK) organization, seeking to read over two years of their correspondence. Our goal is to reach 1,400 signatures – 100 for every scientist who has been targeted with a FoIA. And we are less than 100 signatures away from that goal! Have you taken the time to sign it yet? We need your voice. Continue reading.

The Redskins suck and so do GMOs

empty seats

Empty seats at FedEx Field by Ron Cogswell via Flickr

I grew up in the Washington, D.C. area watching Redskins football with my family. I haven’t seen a Redskins game since I moved away from the area in the early 2000’s, and now I couldn’t name more than 1 player currently on the team. But I have a strong opinion about them: I think they suck. They are terrible and their incompetent owner has destroyed the team.

Why do I have a strong opinion on something that I know almost nothing about? I read about it on the internet.

Continue reading.

Stand with the #Science14

science14_2Biology Fortified is pleased to co-sponsor this important open letter with the Cornell Alliance for Science. I encourage academic scientists and anyone who values academic freedom to stand with the fourteen academic scientists and professors who have been targeted to turn over their correspondence.

Stop the next Climategate: Stand with public sector scientists and show them your support against agenda-driven bullying

It’s a tactic pulled straight from the climate change deniers’ playbook — and now an anti-science, agenda-driven organization is using it to bully another group of scientists.

In early February, 14 senior scientists at four U.S. universities received requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) to turn over three years worth of e-mail correspondence with a handful of agricultural companies, trade groups, and PR firms.

All of these scientists have proactively engaged with the public to raise scientific awareness about agricultural innovation and contributed to the scientific consensus about the safety of GMOs.

FoIA requests are a vital tool for a transparent democracy. However, this FoIA is clearly a last ditch witch-hunt by an anti-GMO group to mislead the public and keep scientists from doing their work.

We’ve seen this anti-science bullying tactic before in Climategate, where academic discussion was taken out of context to mislead the public.

Broad anti-science campaigns like this are hurting our society.

At a time when the world’s population is expected to rise to more than 9.5 billion by 2050, we need more science, not less, if we are to feed the world without destroying fragile ecosystems and driving more species to extinction.

These scientists need the support of allies like you to protect scientific freedom.

Please join the fight for academic freedom by signing our letter to support the scientists under attack and urging them to stand strong in the face of anti-science bullying.

Letter

Dear Science 14:

To the 14 public sector scientists who are being harassed by agenda-driven, anti-science FoIA requests, I stand with you.

This is a tactic taken directly from the climate deniers’ handbook: to mislead the public on an issue of clear scientific consensus with personal communications taken out of context.

You were targeted because of your engagement with the public on key scientific issues and I don’t want your voice to be silenced. This is the latest step in a broader anti-science campaign that is hurting our society.

The Freedom of Information Act is essential for a healthy democracy, but this request is not in the public interest. This request is clearly a witch-hunt by an anti-science organization with the goal of chilling academic discourse.

I stand with the 14 targeted scientists and urge them to stand up for academic freedom and the protection of scientific discourse.

I urge you to stay strong in the face of anti-science bullying and not compromise your important work.

Sincerely,

Go sign the letter! Send a message to these scientists that you stand with them against this attack, and that you stand for academic freedom in every field. Even if you disagree with any of their views – if you are an academic scientist you owe it to them and yourself to stick up for what is right. Because if the role of public scientists in society continues to become a target for private and political interests, you may be next.

Plushies have arrived!

pallet1

Hooray!

It’s the day we’ve all been waiting for. The Frank N. Foode™ and Lanakila Ā. Papaya™ plushies have arrived! I was just sending an email yesterday to get an update on the status of our shipping, and before the manufacturer could get back to me, I got a phone call from our mailbox. A pallet with our name on it showed up at their loading door. My wife and my plans for the evening changed immediately, and we took the truck out before dinner to fetch the boxes of plushies. It took two trips even with the truck to grab all 25 boxes of 50 plushies each. It would have taken only one trip if it weren’t for the generosity of all our Kickstarter backers who made all of these possible.

Loading and unloading the boxes was more fun than you might think, Continue reading.

What makes honeybee colonies Collapse?

5905532828_06a14b450c_z

Frank explores a bee hive. Credit: KJHvM. See the whole album here.

Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder has always interested me, because I’m interested in insect pathology – and this is probably the most important insect-pathology related event we’ll see in our lifetimes. I’ve written about CCD here at Biofortified, first in my post Colony Collapse Disorder: an Introduction. I followed this up with Are Neonicotinoids the Cause of Colony Collapse Disorder, where I talked about why the pesticide topic was a lot more complicated than neonicotinoid topic alone.

I’ve not been happy with media narratives which focus exclusively on neonicotinoids, because I think the picture is a lot more complicated than one group of pesticides. There are a lot of things which make bees sick, and a lot of these things change the social structure of bees in ways which are negative for the health of the colony. Honeybees also have problems finding food in many areas, which makes these problems worse. So, to restate something I’ve said in previous posts – I don’t think pesticides are entirely blameless, but I think many popular science articles on the topic lay too much blame on pesticides. CCD is multifactorial, with a lot of factors which interact to cause problems.

One question which I’ve had for awhile is: What happens when honeybee colonies Collapse*? In other words, why do the bees leave? A paper in PNAS, Rapid behavioral maturation accelerates failure of stressed honey bee colonies, seems to have answered the question, at least partially.

Continue reading.