April Fools: FoIA requests expand to all published academic GMO research

Editor’s Note: The following post was part of our 2015 April Fools prank on our readers. A lot of people had fun reading and joking about it. If you were worried about so many researchers being harassed you can now relax, but if you were a graduate student looking forward to a free weekly buffet – we’re sorry to disappoint you! Although this was a prank, FoIA requests are currently being abused to harass scientists with the goal of undermining science communicators. You can find out more about this issue here and we encourage you to sign this letter of support! By William Harvey, M.D. (Born April 1st, 1578) Previously, it was reported that 14 Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) requests had been filed seeking the correspondence of academic scientists and professors who were actively involved in outreach and public education about genetically engineered crops. The Biofortified Blog has recently


Plushies have arrived!

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,

The logo of USRTK

USRTK wants the Emails of Public Scientists

This is troubling news for academic scientists. An organization called “US Right to Know” has issued at least a dozen legal requests to the home universities of public scientists who have made efforts to educate the public about genetically engineered crops. Using the US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and state laws, they want access to all of the emails sent to and from the targeted scientists and a list of industry and industry-associated organizations. Claiming to only be interested to “understand the dynamics between the agrichemical industry’s PR efforts, and the public university faculty who sometimes are its public face”, these FOIA requests risk violating academic freedom and having a silencing effect on scientist-communicators who fear becoming political targets. Reminiscent of Climategate, the scientists who have been targeted fear that their correspondence will be twisted for political purposes.   We will report more about this concerning issue as it


Become one of our Luminaria and help us Light the Way!

Help Biology Fortified Light the Way in 2015! (Visit the Luminaria campaign page to view the current list of signatories.) Biology Fortified, Inc. (BFI) is an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a mission to educate and engage the public about issues in food and agriculture, especially plant genetics and genetic engineering. We were an early pioneer in providing accurate and relevant science-based information and a beacon for many. Biology Fortified has a strong history in science communication. Since our founding in 2008, we have published over 1,000 articles – reaching over 1.7 million views – by volunteer contributors and volunteer editors. With support from the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) Educational Foundation, we launched the GENetic Engineering Risk Atlas (GENERA), a database of 400 studies on the impacts of genetically engineered crops. We successfully Kickstarted two plush dolls that represent genetically engineered crops (Frank N. Foode corn and Lanakila

Innate Potato next to a conventional one

Comment Today on the next Genetically Engineered Potato

There’s always a little catch-up to do when coming out of the Holiday season. Back in December, the USDA public comment period opened up for a next-generation transgenic potato variety developed by Simplot. The previous Simplot “Generation 1 Innate” potato, which reduced browning, acrylamide, and bruising, was approved by the USDA in November last year. Back in 2013, we conducted an interview with Haven Baker at Simplot to find out answers to your questions about the potato and its new traits. Now they have another potato variety with more traits – Generation 2 Innate – which takes the traits of Generation 1 and adds late blight resistance and further reduces the acrylamide-generating potential of the tubers when you fry them. There is a lot to discuss about this new variety and its traits, however, the first public comment period for USDA regulations ends today! I wanted to inform our readers