“Mutation. It is the key to our evolution. It has enabled us to evolve from a single-celled organism into the dominant species on the planet. This process is slow and normally taking thousands and thousands of years. But every few hundred millennia, evolution leaps forward.” – Professor Xavier I love that quote from X-Men. Other than the last sentence, it’s true. Mutations happen at a fairly constant rate and can occur every time a cell divides. Although we tend to think of mutations as negative events associated with genetic diseases or cancer, some mutations are beneficial: in our species, mutations have allowed for adaptation to high altitude in Tibetans or have protected individuals from heart disease. The same is true in nature: mutations allow for plants to develop resistance to pests, or in the case of weeds, to pesticides. However, as Professor Xavier points out in the opening credits of the movie,
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
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
As many of you may have heard, following the unboxing of our Frank N. Foode™ and Papaya plushies, we have placed the order for these plushies and the factory is beginning production. Not only that, but we managed to increase our order from the original 500 Franks and 250 Papayas to 750 Franks and 500 papayas! The tremendous amount of support and enthusiasm that we saw in our Kickstarter campaign and while we perfected the new designs has been phenomenal, and I personally can’t wait to get the boxes ready to ship as soon as the plushies arrive! We know that Frank N. Foode™ is going to be a hit, and he will help us reach more people and make science more fun for them. Right now we are preparing to launch Frank into a whole new domain with cooking videos and science festivals – and to do that we need to
Last week, Dr. Pam Ronald gave a lecture about genetically engineered crops in Michael Pollan and Raj Patel’s Edible Education 101 class. After the 1-hour lecture, she sat down with Pollan and Patel to debate and discuss the issue. The New Yorker wrote a story about it, and now you can watch the video! Dr. Ronald surveyed the students in the class during the lecture which had some interesting and dramatic results. What did you think? Let’s discuss it in the comments.