Name that database!

posted in: Updates | 35

In the forum, Anastasia announced that we’re working on a search-able database of the safety studies that have been conducted on GE crops. Our goal is to help people know about and understand the depth of research there has been on these crops, and be able to browse and search among them for details. And we especially want the fact that there has been a large amount of independent research on them to be widely known.

I’m happy to report that the initial testing phase of the features of this new database has been completed, and I am putting together the final version of our interface both on the front end and the back end. The whole system will work within the Biofortified blog posts and hasn’t necessitated dipping into our extensive war chest. But we will need a little bit of help from you.

Readers will be able to browse and search on the basis of:

  • Crop studied
  • Type of study (nutritional/feeding/basic genetics/etc)
  • Funding (independent/corporate)
  • Peer-reviewed or not
  • Findings (positive/negative/ambiguous)

On each page, we will have:

  • Complete, linked citation (including Pubmed author links)
  • Abstract
  • Specific funding sources
  • Impact factor summary
  • Our own summary of the findings and significance of the study
  • PDFs when possible (open access, future permissions, etc)

There were a couple other ideas we tossed around such as the study location and special areas that display the title of the journal and link to it (in addition to the links in the citation), but that is making it a bit complicated and we’re trying to keep it simple. If there is some information about these studies that you would really like to see included in this database, please let me know in the comments, as coding is ongoing! We hope to have it online and ready for entries at the end of the week.

Finally, we’re stuck on one important detail: what to call this database? We’ve been calling it the “safety study database” while working on it, however, many of the studies are not, strictly speaking, safety studies. Many of them are studies that compare GE crops to their conventional counterparts (and different genetic modification methods) on the basis of gene expression or other changes. These do have safety implications, but less directly. There are feeding studies, nutritional and biochemical analysis, and research on substantial equivalence. What would you call such a resource? Help us brainstorm!

Follow Karl Haro von Mogel:
Karl earned his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics at UW-Madison, with a minor in Life Science Communication. His dissertation was on both the genetics of sweet corn and plant genetics outreach. He recently moved back to his home state of California. His favorite produce might just be squash.