What makes honeybee colonies Collapse?

Frank likes bees too.

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,

Gene Editing and GMOs


Gene editing has been getting a lot of attention lately, with an increasing number of articles about this method in the media. In this post, I’ll provide a very high level overview of the method (please note that many molecules and enzymes will be omitted for the sake of simplicity). Most of the information here is from a 2014 review entitled “Development and Applications of CRISPR-Cas9 for Genome Engineering” from the journal Cell (unfortunately behind a paywall). As you can imagine, gene editing is somewhat of a holy grail. To erase undesired mutations in DNA would be a dream for

Why do we need pest management?

Damage to raspberry by D. suzukii. Arrows indicate maggots. Image from here.

Everybody needs to eat. Agriculture is the cornerstone of civilization, and by 2100 we’ll need to be a lot better at agriculture because there may be as many as 11 billion people on this planet. Unfortunately, agriculture is also extremely inefficient. For every 100 lbs of food which could potentially be harvested, only about 30 lbs is used by consumers. Some of this is waste, but a lot of this is pest damage. This is the main challenge for an agricultural scientist: Of 100 lbs of food grown around the world, 70 lbs of it is lost along the way

Medical Doctors weigh in on Glyphosate Claims


Dr. Steven Novella Before the Holidays, a claim was being circulated around about glyphosate – the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide. The claim is that half of all children will be autistic by 2025 – and the source for this claim is none other than Dr. Stephanie Seneff. Long-time readers of this blog will recognize that she has made many claims about GMOs – in particular the Roundup herbicide that is sprayed on them – which have been addressed many times before. Is there any merit to this claim? Two highly-regarded blogging medial doctors have weighed in on this issue

Agriculture Requires Fertilizer Inputs, and That’s Good

Harvest time by joinash via Flickr.

Harvest time by joinash via Flickr. On a brown, August-dry field in Eastern Washington, a farmer in a combine cuts a 24-foot swath across a field of wheat. The harvested grain then begins a journey, first to the storage bin, then to the local elevator, on rail to a flour mill, by truck to a bakery, by oven to bread, and by car to a home where it is eaten. This is good; our foremost mandate to agriculture is to produce food. However, with this successful export of food from farm fields to nearby and distant cities comes a problem: