Solutions for micronutrient deficiency

You  will never understand violence or nonviolence until you understand the violence to the spirit that happens from watching your children die of malnutrition.
— a peasant in El Salvador (quote from Witness to War)

The recent destruction of Golden Rice trials in the Philippines has me thinking again about how crop genetics, including biotechnology, can help in reducing malnutrition. Greenpeace and others would have us believe that home gardening and supplements are the solution, but unfortunately it’s just not that simple. On the other side, I’ve seen quite a few short posts dismissing the potential of gardens and supplements but haven’t seen anyone go into the details. Let’s examine them thoroughly. Continue reading


Skepticism. It’s why we blog.

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I was catching up on Skeptoid episodes this weekend. The episode on The Black Knight Satellite started out with some really convincing stories about a mysterious object orbiting the earth (you’ll have to listen to the podcast for details!). I absolutely loved how Brian Dunning, author of Skeptoid, made the transition to the next part of the episode… spoilers! Continue reading

Lack of care when choosing grains invalidates pig feeding study

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Something smells around here… and it’s not the pigs! Pigs by Andreas Klinke Johannsen via Flickr.

The new pig feeding study has really made a splash in the media, with uncritical journalists taking it at face value. The paper is titled: A long-term toxicology study on pigs fed a combined genetically modified (GM) soy and GM maize diet by Carman et al, if you’d like to read it.

Happily, many highly qualified bloggers have provided thoughtful rebuttals on various aspects of the study. I’d like to present my own review, as a crop scientist (specifically, a PhD in genetics, focusing on plants, with a minor in sustainable agriculture). I’ll examine the sources of the GM and non-GM grain used in the study and show why their choices invalidate the entire study, even before you consider the poor use of statistics and issues with animal husbandry (read: animal welfare).

Continue reading


I just got my 23andme results back last night, and I’m pretty excited. There’s a lot of very cool information, and I love how 23andme creates graphics so you can better understand what is happening in your own way. It’ll take me a long time to savor all of the genetics data goodness, but I’d like to share one striking result from the Ancestry Composition tool. Continue reading

Biotech Memes

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Birth Control Saves by Mary Mangan via G+.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Pair that picture with some clever text and you’ve got a meme that will be re-tweeted and shared all over the internet until even your grandmother has seen it. Thankfully, there are some great science memes getting made and passed around every day – but there could always be more. Continue reading