Construction barrel monster. Image by Eric Merrill via Flickr.

Site construction

You may have noticed a few changes here and there on the Biofortified Blog and across the website. We are hard at work making major improvements. We’re getting a much faster host, testing a responsive website design, switching comments to Disqus, moving to a better forum, developing special subscriber pages, cleaning up our about pages, and much more. There might be some growing pains, so we thank you for your patience and invite you to contact us if you notice any issues. The most important thing you may have noticed is that we have switched from the default WordPress comment system to Disqus. Our 13,000+ approved comments are currently being indexed, but should reappear on the Biofortified Blog soon. You have likely seen Disqus comments at other websites, including NPR, The Atlantic, and Grist among many others. While every tool has its drawbacks*, we believe this will give users more control over their

Applause genetically engineered rose via Wired.

What’s in a name?

“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).

Frank visits Pete and Gerry's egg farm in Vermont in October 2013.

Bird flu and egg substitutes

It’s strange that so few people are talking about this flu outbreak in chickens in the US. I don’t think it’s something we can ignore. The outbreak is sad for many reasons, including the birds’ suffering, the needed yet wasteful culling of flocks, and the human toll of the workers dealing with so much death plus the farmers seeing their cared for animals and their business killed. We should expect a rise in egg prices, starting with liquid eggs and processed foods that use liquid eggs (including baked goods and ice cream, as the NY Times article states). I doubt in-shell egg prices are far behind. That’s bad news for people struggling to put food on the table. 

thanks for asking

Break the silence on GMOs – with a story

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 for each person, depending on their own concerns and background, and what they might have heard about GMOs from friends or through social media. Instead of facts, I believe we need to focus on telling our stories – whether we are farmers or scientists.

Girl Scout Cookies - Thin Mints & Samoas - by Brianpdx via flickr

Celebrate cookies and science

Scouting was a very important part of my childhood. I learned independence, teamwork, and so many other important life traits. Not to mention the camping, singing, crafts… and cookies! Selling cookies was one of the highlights of each year. Thanks in large part to my grandmother who worked in a hospital and my aunt who worked in a law firm, one year I was one of the top 25 cookie sellers in the whole United States! My dad is archiving our family photos and he was able to find these for me… I was a Girl Scout from Daisy all the way to Cadette, and my mom was a troop leader for many of those years. Now that I have a baby daughter, I look forward to her joining Girl Scouts and to being a troop leader myself. I’m especially excited about the science and engineering badges that they have added since I