So Much for My Favorite 2012 Paper


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

Cotton like Candy

Or Cottonseed you can Eat thanks to Genetic Engineering. A few years ago, I read about a research group that had used genetic engineering to remove a poisonous compound from cotton seed. Now, it seems, they are one step closer to making a positive impact on the availability of food for people in developing countries and beyond. Time Magazine reports that Dr. Keerti Rathore and his team, who made the development years ago have now moved on to field trials, a necessary step to test the resilience and effectiveness of the trait in real-world conditions. RNA that Interferes Let me