Evolving Health

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In the final minutes of a new TEDxCERN talk, Penn State biology professor Nina Fedoroff implores of her audience, “Will we have the wisdom to invest in the scientific and technological innovations that can give everyone a livelihood, a seat at the table, and enough to eat?” Count yourself as a decent human being if you find yourself nodding “yes” because, as the former AAAS president says, food security is essential to providing stability around the… Read More

A while back, I interviewed a plant geneticist who expressed extreme frustration over the measly funds that were available for research into biotechnology. The scientist’s own research was quite exciting in and of itself because of its potential to profoundly improve current agricultural problems across the world by improving yield, while reducing fertilizer overuse. Intrigued, I asked the scientist about possibilities of commercializing the plant varieties soon. In response, I was told… Read More

What I want to ask is this: Why aren’t there more people, beyond scientists and academics, talking about organically grown GMOs? These last few weeks have had me thinking a lot about how the terms used to describe our food — “organic,” “conventional,” and genetically modified” — which only serve to confuse and distract from greater issues at hand. The greater issues (in a nutshell): Agricultural and food scientists are given a heavy… Read More

Plants with larger root systems take up minerals more easily. Plants these days. They’re coddled, entitled, fed with a silver spoon. Use of man-made fertilizer and traditional breeding, over the years, has selected for traits that led to today’s modern-variety plants that grow fat with yields. But the downside of easy access to nutrients is that it has allowed for the breeding out of desirable traits that has left plants, well, acting… Read More

On May 27, the “Take the Flour Back” environmentalist group plans to take “mass action” in efforts to remove more than $1 million worth of research in biotechnology. Their purpose, according to their website, is one of “mass decontamination” of what they see is a threat to farmers, the food supply, health of consumers, and biodiversity. What this protest group doesn’t understand is that it’s exactly this kind of research that they, as environmentalists, should be… Read More

To feed a crowded planet and avoid further loss of species, Nina Fedoroff, professor of biology at Penn State University and president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), argues for more focus on biotechnology and controlled environment agriculture. “Time is not on our side,” she said in a keynote address at a research reports and retreat in Tucson, Ariz., hosted Aug. 19 by The University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. Thomas… Read More