Silencing Public Scientists

ag letter excerpt

Last week I received a FOIA request that all of my emails bearing certain terms were going to be obtained and turned over to an activist group.  US-RTK, a San Francisco-based activist group, namely Gary Ruskin, wanted to know my ties to Big Ag and their PR arm. The first thing I did was pick up a phone, call Gary Ruskin, and say, “What can I tell you?” We spoke for 10 minutes, he seems like a decent guy, but what’s the deal with assuming that I’m guilty of something before even talking?  I’m not one to do things the

USRTK wants the Emails of Public Scientists

The logo of USRTK

The logo of USRTK 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

Comment Today on the next Genetically Engineered Potato

Innate Potato next to a conventional one

Innate Potato next to a conventional one 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

Off-patent GMO soybeans: What happens now?

Soybean Seed

Farmers can save these Roundup Ready seeds The development, testing, and regulation of genetically engineered crops usually takes a significant investment of time and resources, and it comes as no surprise that these crops are patented so that their developers can recoup their investments. Farmers who grow these crops usually pay licensing fees for the use of the technology, and sign license agreements that restrict their ability to save the seeds. Now, a variety of GMO herbicide-tolerant soybeans has been released by the University of Arkansas with no technology fees, and no license agreements to sign. The farmers are free

A Misplaced Concern about an Apple

arctic apple vs regular crop

Apples growing in British Columbia As a consumer and as an agricultural scientist, I’m looking forward to the introduction of the Arctic® apple. It is possibly nearing approval by regulators in the US and Canada which could mean that supplies might finally be available in a few more years.  These apples could give consumers the possibility of buying apples that maintain their flavor, appearance and vitamin content after cutting, and which can also be used to make beautiful dried apple slices without the need for sulfites (something that can be a problem for some people).  This is an excellent example