The Biofortified Blog

Review of “Complete Genes May Pass from Food to Human Blood”

The 2013 PLoS One article Complete Genes May Pass from Food to Human Blood is often used as evidence that genes from GMO can “transfer” into our bodies (such as in this article from Collective Evolution). In this post, I’d like to review the paper with you and discuss this nightmare-inducing scenario. Read more ›

Posted in Science Tagged with: , , , ,

Jimmy Kimmel gives GMOs the Gluten treatment


Jimmy Kimmel jumped into the discussion of the “Gluten-free” trend, showing that many people who avoided wheat gluten did not understand what it was or why they were avoiding it. Now, Jimmy Kimmel has done the same thing with GMOs. He sent a film crew to a farmer’s market to find out if people avoided GMOs, why, and what “GMO” stood for. This is the hilarious result.

Posted in News Tagged with: ,

The day I unwittingly became a pro-science activist

Food Hunk profile pic300
fun facts

What kinds of Fun ‘Facts’ Fester in yonder tent? Credit: Jeff Fountain

Early this September I attended the National Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa.  It’s an event that’s centered around the pure food movement, heirloom vegetables, and anti-GMO activism.  The speakers included Joseph Mercola, Jeffrey Smith, Andrew Kimbrell, and my personal favorite pseudoscientist, Vani Hari, a.k.a. the Food Babe.  For those unfamiliar with Food Babe, she is an anti-GMO, pro-organic public figure who attacks food and agricultural companies for what are essentially harmless practices.  The reason I mention her is because she inspired me to start my own Facebook parody page called Food Hunk, which is what sort of drove my foray into ‘activism’.  Food Hunk is to Food Babe, what Stephen Colbert is to Bill O’Reilly.  I joined a community of other wonderful Food Babe critics such as Chow Babe and Science Babe, with my page being a bit of a broader commentary on fallacious ways of thinking, such as the all-too-common naturalistic fallacy.

I’ve been interested in science all of my life, but only in the last few years have I become more involved with skepticism and the idea that you don’t need to be a scientist to think like a scientist.  As usually proliferated on social media, a constant barrage of anti-GMO fear mongering flooded my Facebook feed on a daily basis. I started trying to counter these claims with sound science.  Because many of those spreading erroneous info were good friends, I felt compelled to actually know what I was talking about and inform them, instead of simply calling them out their ignorance.  I became active in various online forums devoted to exploring the issue of genetic engineering, and found myself learning from some of the best science communicators on the topic.  Upon realizing that I couldn’t learn enough, I decided to go back to school and learn about biotechnology.  I’d recently left my fifteen-year career working in the wine industry and was exploring my passion for science.  My wife found a certificate program at CCSF called Bridge to Biosciences where I am enrolled today.  I am nowhere near as educated as many of the people I correspond with about science, but I’m always trying to learn and never pretend to wield knowledge I don’t have.  In my opinion, this is one of the most important components of skepticism.  If more people only stopped pretending to know what they do not know, we wouldn’t see the blatant misinformation that so predominantly surrounds the topic of GMOs.

Recently I was in a GMO enthusiast forum, when I noticed a post from Karl at Biology Fortified.  He mentioned the Heirloom Expo and was asking if anyone from the Bay Area was going to attend.  Santa Rosa is only about an hour from where I live, and so after realizing I didn’t really have anything planned for the day I thought, “How could I possibly pass up the opportunity to introduce Food Hunk to Food Babe?”  I put on my ‘I love GMOs’ t-shirt, (carefully concealed under my sweatshirt) and hit the road to Santa Rosa. Read more ›

Posted in Commentary Tagged with: , , , , ,

Don’t believe what Dr. Oz is saying about an agricultural herbicide


Dr. Oz. Source: Wikipedia

Television personality Dr Oz has released a video which talks about an agricultural product called Enlist Duo.  Virtually nothing in this video is presented accurately.  It is a prime example of fear-mongering around the issues of “GMOs” and pesticides.  I’d like to respond, point by point, to what it says that is not true or misleading.  Dr Oz’s statements/image descriptions will be in red:

“The EPA is on the brink of approving a brand new toxic pesticide you don’t know about.”

The product in question, Enlist Duo is a combination of two very old herbicide products:  2,4-D and glyphosate. A great many consumers do know about these materials because they have been approved for homeowner use for decades and are common ingredients in products available at any neighborhood gardening center.  These chemicals are still approved for use in more than 70 countries around the world and for use in high exposure settings like lawns, parks, sports fields and gardens. They are still used this way because after multiple rounds of increasingly sophisticated scrutiny by regulators, they have been confirmed to be quite low in toxicity to humans and to the environment. This product is neither “brand new” nor is it notably “toxic.” Read more ›

Posted in Science Tagged with: , , , , ,

Thomas Lang makes music for Frank N. Foode™


thomaslang-900As you know, we’re working on the music for our educational video series, Cooking with Frank N. Foode™, and we are seeking donations to help fund this important part of our new outreach project. Next, I want to introduce you to Thomas Lang, who composed the music for this series. We knew it would be a challenge to create music that fits the topics we would talk about on the show, and bring out both the science and the character of Frank N. Foode™. We were fortunate to not have to look very far to find Tom.

Several years ago, Ariela and I were already acquainted with Tom while he was a composition graduate student at UW-Madison. He worked in the campus music library, and he was a very helpful tutor and a fantastic composer, we soon learned. Three years ago we attended a concert that featured his award-winning piece, Music for Orchestra in However Many Incarnations, which was inspired by actors who played Dr. Who in Doctor Who. Read more ›

Posted in Science & Society Tagged with: , , ,

Biology Fortified, Inc. is an independent, non-profit organization devoted to providing factual information and fostering discussion about issues in biology, with a particular emphasis on plant genetics and genetic engineering in agriculture. Find out more on our About page.

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