Q&A with Haven Baker on Simplot’s Innate™ Potatoes

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There’s a new genetically engineered potato in town that doesn’t brown when cut or fried, nor does it make acrylamide. J. R. Simplot Company petitioned the USDA to deregulate their Innate™ potatoes, and the public comment period has just been opened up on that petition. We sent Simplot some questions about their new potatoes and the technology used to make them, and their Vice President of Plant Sciences, Haven Baker, was happy to respond. Here is that interview, and if you have more questions about it feel free to ask more, as we have asked Haven to stick around

Growing Plants on the Moon and Mars

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Gene Giacomelli brought his research group’s Lunar Greenhouse to the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) 2013 Convention at McCormick Place in Chicago. Built in Arizona, this greenhouse can be set up underground on the Moon or Mars to grow food, cycle nutrients, and produce oxygen. It can produce one salad per day and also provide a place for astronauts to de-stress. One is currently being used by the scientists who live in Antarctica to grow fresh veggies! Frank also got to go inside to take a look.

Saving coffee from a serious plant disease

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Some of the world’s best coffee comes from the tropical highlands of Central and South America.  Recently these regions have experienced heavier rainfall.  This is probably due to climate change, but in any case it fosters severe epidemics of the Coffee Leaf Rust pathogen, Hemileia vastatrix.   This disease has a long history of disrupting coffee production around the world.  One reason the English drink tea is that the Ceylonese and Javan coffee plantations which once supplied them were devastated by this same fungus in the late 1800s.  Coffee production was moved to the Americas (among other places) and it wasn’t

Analysis of Washington State GMO Labeling Initiative I-522

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Background Recently, supporters of the Washington State initiative I-522 submitted signatures to the Secretary of the State of Washington.  This initiative is designed to “establish mandatory labeling of foods produced through genetic engineering”. The official web site for the initiative support effort can be found at: ( labelitwa.org [EDIT 3/2/2013: Initiative supporters have put up a new WEB site at Yes on I522]) and the initiative text can be found at: (I-522 Text ). The author of I-522, Chris McManus (Chris McManus), is an advertising executive from Tacoma, Washington.  When asked about technical details of the initiative, he reportedly replied

Have a Beer with Kevin Folta

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Five years ago when I was taking a look at graduate schools I applied to, I found myself at the University of Florida at Gainesville. I remember meeting a professor there whose enthusiasm for plant science rivaled my own, and his name was Dr. Kevin Folta. You may know him from his blog Illumination, from the posts he has written for this blog, or from this video on the Huffington Post. He was invited to speak at the student-run Plant Science Symposium here in Madison last week, and naturally we had to meet up! Ten years ago, he was a