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

So Much for My Favorite 2012 Paper

applmrna

Republished from Illumination. Ask any scientist what papers truly intrigued or inspired them.  All of us have a few. One of my favorites hit Cell Research back in summer of 2012.  In this paper, Zhang et al claimed that dietary microRNAs from rice were somehow ushered through the digestive gauntlet and modulated physiologically relevant changes in LDL, at least in mice.  MicroRNAs are a relatively recent regulatory regimen, a monkey wrench in the central dogma in of molecular biology.  These tiny runs of a 1-2 dozen nucleotides interact with RNA, leading to its degradation. They interact with RNA to change translation

Why novel dsRNA molecules in GM food are of little to no concern

Showing the secondary structure present in pre-miRNAs.

Recently, concerns were raised about the potential risks of dietary double stranded RNA (dsRNA) and microRNA (miRNA) molecules silencing human genes, after research by Zhang et al. showed the presence of plant miRNA in human blood plasma, as well as providing evidence that this plant miRNA enters the system by dietary uptake in mice. The group then demonstrated that this plant miRNA could silence genes in the mice, leading other researchers to separately raise concerns that diets consisting of genetically modified organisms could lead to the uptake of novel dsRNA molecules that could silence human genes. Gene-silencing by RNA interference, or RNAi,

GMO Wheat and shouting “fire” in a crowded theater

Stoking fears to sway your emotions

Stoking fears to sway your emotions A report from an activist group called Safe Food Foundation (SFF) came out last fall that caused a minor stir upon it’s first release. They claimed that they had unearthed an issue with GMO wheat being studied by the Australian CSIRO researchers. The wheat under investigation has shown to provide improvements in digestive health in animal studies and could potentially lower the glycemic index of foods. SFF threw a press conference, did a YouTube video, and managed to get some press about it. Here’s a New Zealand newspaper that picked up the claims. But

Brazilian virus-resistant beans

A homemade, high potential benefit-driven development from the public sector Beans are an important food item, mostly in the developing world. Unfortunately, the golden mosaic virus infection is a serious constraint causing severe grain losses in Brazil and South America. The National Technical Commission on Biosafety (CTNBio) approved the genetically modified golden mosaic virus-resistant beans developed by the Brazilian public Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) linked to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply. This work is an example of a public-sector effort to develop useful traits, such as resistance to a devastating disease, in an “orphan crop” cultivated by poor