What’s in a name?

Applause genetically engineered rose via Wired.

Applause genetically engineered blue rose, image via Wired. “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” –Shakespeare Does the name of a scientific technique and its results matter? There are many names for genetic engineering and genetically engineered organisms, and many definitions for those names. Scientists and government agencies in the US generally use genetic engineering and biotechnology. Activists who dislike the technology call its results GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

Why no one will ever “prove that GMOs are safe”

Water has never been proven safe. Image by Konstantin Stepanov via Flickr.

Water has never been proven safe. Image by Konstantin Stepanov via Flickr. When discussing transgenic crops, I regularly get asked to provide a paper that “proves” that GMOs are safe. Whether you want proof that biotech crops, organic bananas, or conventional peaches are safe, I cannot provide you with such a paper. Safety is a relative term and is generally defined as the absence of risk or harm. As such, asking for proof of safety is, in essence, asking someone for proof of the absence of risk. The risk of what ever is being evaluated is measured in relation to

Break the silence on GMOs – with a story

thanks for asking

Image via the Kansas Farm Food Connection. A recent article argues that it is Time for Farmers to Break Their Silence on GMOs, and I heartily agree. I recently spoke at the GMOs: Now we’re talking! event hosted by the Kansas Farm Bureau, where Bureau President, Richard Felts, asked me what farmers should say. Is there a quick fact or something that could reassure consumers about the safety of modern agriculture, particularly of GMOs? My response is that most people won’t respond to a quick fact. Even if they would respond to a quick fact, it might be a different fact

Should science be a democracy?

Dubai Air Show by Alexander Babashov via Flickr.

DNA sign by Thomas Hawk via Flickr. A January 2015 survey conducted by agricultural economists at Oklahoma State found that 82% of Americans want their food labeled if it contains GMOs. The same survey found that 80% of Americans want their food labeled if it contains DNA. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. After the initial face-palm, my feelings of intellectual superiority gradually ebbed when I realized that my husband would be in the 80% of the population that doesn’t know that all food, unless it’s highly processed, contains DNA. My better-half has a degree in International Relations and Peace Studies. He is a consultant with

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.