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Anastasia Bodnar has been at 1 events

HostFollowersTitleDateGuestsLinks
Scientific American249,659GMOs are essential to feeding the world, proponents say. Tampering with nature is perilous, critics say. Who is right? Scientific American editor Michael Moyer will host a 30-minute conversation at noon EDT to explore this question with David H. Freedman, journalist and author of "Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us—And How to Know When Not to Trust Them." Join in and let us know what questions you'd like us to address. For more on this topic, see our September issue on Food, on newsstands later this week. The Truth about Genetically Modified Food2013-08-20 18:00:0077G+

Anastasia Bodnar has been shared in 39 public circles

AuthorFollowersDateUsers in CircleCommentsReshares+1Links
Aman Singh2,014Circle of the dayYour re-share is appreciatedPlease re-share this circle in your stream.To be added:1- Add +Circles Circles Circles to your circles2- Write the URL of your blog in the comments section below3- Your blog must be an active blog (posts must be current)2014-07-16 12:15:324990617CC G+
Ryan Johnson9,485Hi friends! This is a great circle created with an important selection from all circles. The most important engagers are reshared because only that way can we grow our circle and have the people of google circle us.To get in, and to ensure you stay in this circle you need to do the following:1. Add me to your circles, if you haven't done so already!2. +1 this circle!3. Publicly share this circle to public, your circles and extended circles.4. If possible, leave a comment on this circle so I know you have done the three steps above!#circleshare #circlesharing #circleoftheday #wanttobecircled #addmetoyourcircles #public #publiccircle #sharedcircles #Britain #sharedcircle #morefollowers #sharingcircles #sharedpubliccircles #sharedpublicircles #sharedcircle #photography #uk  #nottingham #Holland #Netherlands #Duch2014-07-16 10:40:014918812CC G+
Michael Ginsburg284#sharedcircle  of #Australians  on Google+. Over 1400 people in the circle but Google+ only allows to share 500 at a time.If you want to be added to the circle, please like and comment (so I am not accused of spamming) and also I need to be able to verify you are in #australia . Pages welcome provided again they are #Australian  and I can verify that. If there is a lot of interest from pages, I might consider starting a separate circle for #Australian pages.2014-05-22 00:25:16501414CC G+
Becky Collins5,164 Social Sciences Circle :Circle of very #social #engagerspeople and companiesTo be included in my shares (#sharedcircle), be so kind to:1 - Do +1 t the post2 - Comment the post and specify your "category" (job or interest) Ex: Fashion, SEO, Companies, Social Media Marketing, Sailing, Photography, Bloggers/Writers, Web graphics and design, Italy, Artists, Sport, Finance/Economy ...3 - include the circle among your circles4 - share the circle (include yourself)Improve your popularity, be social be cool !#socialmedia  #media  #circles   #circleshare   #circlesharing  #circlecircle   #beckyscircle   #sharedcircles   #sharedpubliccircles  #sharedcircleoftheday  +Becky Collins2014-03-18 12:35:31305008CC G+
DEVILZART103This circle will add great, amazing, wonderful, and awesome content to you feed plus your page will receive massive engagement and ppplllluuuussss OnEs!!!   Welcome to +circle your circle with circles!!!!!  :DBoost your visibility on Google+ - Share the circle!To be added to the Circle you have to do these simple steps:1 - include me in your circles 2 - Click add people and create your circle3 - share the circle (include yourself) 4 - add +1 to the post#circle   #circleshare   #circlesharing  #circulo   #kreise   #kreis   #круг   #круги   #круглим   #кругляши  #blogger   #blogging   #bloggers#サークル   #界   #cercle   #دائرة   #kring   #kringen   #nederland  +Circles +Circle Circle Circle +Circles by DzjieDzjee +Selected Circles 2014 +Awesome Circles +Socialize circles +Circles & Circles & Circles +Google+ Categorized Circles +Circles Circles Circles +Curating Content on Google+ +Team Circle Share +Shared Circles +Circle Shares Notifications +Urkel's Shared Circles +Shared Circles Magic G+ +Shared Circles on G+ +SharedCircles #googleplus #circle #sahrecircle #circleshare #circlesharing #circleshared #circleoftheday #sharedpubliccircles #sharedcircleoftheday 2014-02-25 06:41:2550014721CC G+
Mikhail Petrovsky77,776Good morning / evening to all.This is a Social Circle of interesting people with an active lifestyle in Google+Это социальный круг общения интересных людей с активной жизненной позицией в Google+You'll love this circle. Photographers, artists and other interesting people!Вам понравится этот круг, добавьте его себе. Фотографы, художники и другие интересные люди!#EarthMyMother #ForFriends #photo2014-01-27 02:02:59453472471CC G+
Artur M.34,801A Very Social CircleКруг людей с активной жизненной позицией в Гугле+circle of people, with active life position in Google+Если вы поделились этим кругом вчера, вы находитесь в нем сегодня. Если вы разделяете его с друзьями сегодня, вы будете в нем и завтра.#forfriends  2014-01-13 10:29:00460422368CC G+
Mikhail Petrovsky75,337This is a Social Circle of interesting people with an active lifestyle in Google+Это социальный круг общения интересных людей с активной жизненной позицией в Google+You'll love this circle. Photographers, artists and other interesting people!Вам понравится этот круг, добавьте его себе. Фотографы, художники и другие интересные люди!#EarthMyMother #ForFriends #photo2014-01-09 00:53:44453421865CC G+
Andrew Wisniewski38,062Good morning/evening to all.You'll love this circle. Photographers, artists and other interesting people!Вам понравится этот круг, добавьте его себе. Фотографы, художники и другие интересные люди!2013-12-29 06:11:00479411769CC G+
Georgia Mizuleva1,739Very Creative People Circle #circleshare #circlesharing #sharedcircles #share #sharedpubliccircles #circle  2013-12-21 23:26:22470161223CC G+
Fabian Weiland145#sharedcircles #science #health2013-09-05 07:24:12497214CC G+
Science on Google+70,967Natural SciencesThis circle will give you exposure to Astronomy, Biology, ​Chemistry, Ecology, ​​​​​Geography, Geology, and Neuroscience.Science on Google+ community: http://goo.gl/mTTxXView underlying database: http://goo.gl/Yz8KRIf you have a science related degree, you are a science journalist, you are a K-12 science teacher, or you curate a science page, then add your profile/page to the database by filling out this form (http://goo.gl/yEg7M). Active profiles and pages will be included in the next shared circle.#sciencesunday #science #publiccircles   #sharedcircles 2013-08-17 20:56:0734392450CC G+
Alessandro Folghera7321. PLUS+1 This Post! 2. ADD Circle3, Share the circle (note you can add yourself when you go to share)4. COMMENT Below if you are not on it and I will add you!#circleshare   #geekcircle   #sciencecircle   #sharedcircle   #sharedcircles   #sharedcircleoftheday  Social Media Marketing Shared Circle ... share and increase your popularity !2013-04-16 08:01:53422229CC G+
Mike Barnes590Science and Techno Geeks Shared Circle1. PLUS+1 This Post! 2. ADD Circle3, Share the circle (note you can add yourself when you go to share)4. COMMENT Below if you are not on it and I will add you! #circleshare   #geekcircle   #sciencecircle   #sharedcircle   #sharedcircles   #sharedcircleoftheday  For more Social Media and Search Engine Marketing Tips visit http//SEO-Alien.com2013-04-09 20:08:43412417CC G+
Nicole Gugliucci19,829UPDATED First Ladies of Science CircleRemember that whole thing that happened a while ago when +Pamela Gay realized she was the only lady on the Science & Nature Suggested Users List? Well, not only were more women added as a result of our discussions (Thanks, Google!) but we put together a list or YOUR recommendations for your favorite ladies of science. These women do science, teach science, talk about science, or just plain LOVE science, and they share it with all of us here on Google+. Still missing you or one of your favorites? Let me know in the comments! 2013-02-27 04:41:0515610312CC G+
Nicole Gugliucci19,685I'm resharing my "First Ladies of Science" circle from last week ago based on your suggestions of the fabulous women of STEM here in Google+. Sorry, I've been busy with travel and haven't updated it and plan to do that... but I wanted to share from the new profile in case you missed it. 2013-02-09 16:05:091208815CC G+
Science on Google+27,055Biology CircleView profiles in circle: http://goo.gl/xuMxTLinks to shared circles: http://goo.gl/nO7rBIf you have a science related degree, you are a science journalist, you are a K-12 science teacher, or you curate a science page, then add your profile/page to the database (http://goo.gl/yEg7M). Please note that you also have to circle +Science on Google+: A Public Database if you would like to be considered for shared circles.#sciencesunday #science #publiccircles #sharedcircles 2013-01-29 00:40:4116111220CC G+
Science on Google+13,361Natural SciencesThis circle will give you exposure to Astronomy, Biology, ​Chemistry, Ecology, ​​​​​Geography, Geology, and Neuroscience.If you have a science related degree, you are a science journalist, you are a K-12 science teacher, or you curate a science page, then add your profile/page to the database (http://goo.gl/yEg7M). Please note that you also have to circle +Science on Google+: A Public Database if you would like to be considered for shared circles.View underlying database: http://goo.gl/Yz8KRView most recent shared circles: http://goo.gl/nO7rB#sciencesunday #science #publiccircles #sharedcircles 2012-12-02 15:41:4030541730CC G+
Science on Google+12,860Natural SciencesThis circle will give you exposure to Astronomy, Biology, ​Chemistry, Ecology, ​​​​​Geography, Geology, and Neuroscience.If you have a science related degree, you are a science journalist, you are a K-12 science teacher, or you curate a science page, then add your profile/page to the database (http://goo.gl/yEg7M). Please note that you also have to circle +Science on Google+: A Public Database if you would like to be considered for shared circles.View underlying database: http://goo.gl/Yz8KRView most recent shared circles: http://goo.gl/nO7rB#sciencesunday #science #publiccircles #sharedcircles 2012-11-11 13:16:113015914CC G+
Nikki Crome10,618Want Interesting Content In Your Stream?Look no more for I give you SCIENCE!!This is the first time that I was asked to share a circle here on G+ :)I guarantee you will learn something new every day if you add these incredibly interesting and educated individuals ^_^....The circle for when you want something better than memes, animated gifs and photographs of kittens. #Science   #ScienceSunday   #ScienceCircle  2012-10-07 18:18:4341319217CC G+
Science on Google+9,494Natural SciencesThis circle will give you exposure to Astronomy, Biology, ​Chemistry, Ecology, ​​​​​Geography, Geology, and Neuroscience.If you have a science related degree, you are a science journalist, you are a K-12 science teacher, or you curate a science page, then add your profile/page to the database (http://goo.gl/yEg7M). Please note that you also have to circle +Science on Google+: A Public Database if you would like to be considered for shared circles.View underlying database: http://goo.gl/Yz8KRView most recent shared circles: http://goo.gl/nO7rB#sciencesunday #science #publiccircles #sharedcircles 2012-09-09 14:25:5628712932CC G+
Fraser Cain136,858Super Science Circle - August 2012 EditionIt's time again for the latest edition of my Super Science Circle. If your stream is stale, import this shared circle and never want for knowledge again. And if anyone ever tells you Google+ is a ghost town, point them at this circle and demand they import it.Please reshare this list, to help it spread wide and far. Do it! For Science!If you're interested in my criteria, the circle contains:1. People active on Google+2. People who often post about science.I highly recommend that you import these people into a test circle and then evaluate them over the next month. Move over the people who really delight you to a more permanent circle. Then replace the test circle next month, when I share it again.If you know anyone who should be included in this list, please let me know. #sciencesunday   #evang+  2012-08-20 19:42:04434170414583CC G+
STEM Women on G+2,184STEM Women on G+ Shared Circle (Release 3)This is the first crowd-sourced, collaboratively curated circle of Women who work in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields that are also active on G+.We had some simple criteria for inclusion in this circle; every woman in this circle has a job that relates directly to STEM or is an advanced student of STEM. They are all active users of G+ and post Publicly about their STEM discipline regularly (i.e. at least once a week).• Import these people into a brand new circle, and then move people over into your permanent circles if you like what they post.• Reshare this post, to get the STEM goodness out to as many as people as possible :)• If we have missed someone that should be included in this circle in time for our next update, please nominate them at http://goo.gl/rvKEf. We will be actively curating this circle once a month or so, removing inactive users, adding new active users, so consider this a work in progress :)• Please also make sure that the nominee has added the STEM Women on G+ Brand Page to their circles (we cannot include the nominee in this shared circle unless she does that).--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------This circle is curated by +Buddhini Samarasinghe, +Rajini Rao, +Christine Paluch, +Liz ℚuilty and +Liz Krane. A HUGE thank you to everyone who supported this crowd-sourced effort by sharing the original post and by nominating people for it - this wouldn't have been possible without you! #STEM #stemeducation #science #technology #engineering #maths #sharedcircleday #SharedCircles  2012-08-17 05:03:27167110233CC G+
Science on Google+8,204Natural SciencesClick on the following link to view the profiles in this circle: http://goo.gl/gRjj3.If you have a science related degree, you are a science journalist, you are a K-12 science teacher, or you curate a science page, then add your profile/page to the database (http://goo.gl/yEg7M). Please note that you also have to circle +Science on Google+: A Public Database if you would like to be considered for shared circles.2012-08-08 14:17:382771913CC G+
Science on Google+8,038Natural SciencesThis circle will give you exposure to Astronomy, Biology, ​Chemistry, Ecology, ​​​​​Geography, Geology, and Neuroscience.If you have a science related degree, you are a science journalist, you are a K-12 science teacher, or you curate a science page, then add your profile/page to the database (http://goo.gl/yEg7M). Please note that you also have to circle +Science on Google+: A Public Database if you would like to be considered for shared circles.View underlying database: http://goo.gl/Yz8KRView most recent shared circles: http://goo.gl/nO7rB#sciencesunday #science #publiccircles #sharedcircles 2012-08-03 01:55:3027711115CC G+
Science on Google+7,561Natural SciencesThis circle will give you exposure to Astronomy, Biology, ​Chemistry, Ecology, ​​​​​Geography, Geology, and Neuroscience.If you have a science related degree, you are a science journalist, you are a K-12 science teacher, or you curate a science page, then add your profile/page to the database (http://goo.gl/yEg7M). Please note that you also have to circle +Science on Google+: A Public Database if you would like to be considered for shared circles.View underlying database: http://goo.gl/Yz8KRView most recent shared circles: http://goo.gl/nO7rB#sciencesunday #science #publiccircles #sharedcircles 2012-07-22 14:42:092691710CC G+
Scott Lewis3,005The Amazing Women Circle!!As promised, I curated a circle specifically for the awesome women I have circled on Google+. I went through each and every one of these fantastic people's pages, making sure that they not only put up interesting content, but also tend to do so on a regular basis! We all need positive role models, regardless of gender, but with recent things on my mind, I felt the need to celebrate the amazing women on Google+ who add so much to this wonderful community!If any of you have recommendations for amazing women that I should add to this circle, go ahead and mention them in the comments. If you're in this circle and would like to be removed from it, please mention me in a post or email me: scott@knowthecosmos.com and I'll gladly respect your wishes and remove you. Go be awesome, everyone!2012-07-19 03:11:0286421535CC G+
Science on Google+7,308Natural SciencesThis circle will give you exposure to Astronomy, Biology, ​Chemistry, Ecology, ​​​​​Geography, Geology, and Neuroscience.If you have a science related degree, you are a science journalist, you are a K-12 science teacher, or you curate a science page, then add your profile/page to the database (http://goo.gl/yEg7M). Please note that you also have to circle +Science on Google+: A Public Database if you would like to be considered for shared circles.View underlying database: http://goo.gl/Yz8KRView most recent shared circles: http://goo.gl/nO7rB#sciencesunday #science #publiccircles #sharedcircles 2012-07-15 14:02:432680612CC G+
Anastasia Bodnar0Trying to figure out how to start a shared circle for discussion of how to conduct targeted science communication for thought leaders such as Michel Pollan and Mark Bittman.2012-07-13 13:17:073301CC G+
Fraser Cain125,463Super Science Circle - July 2012 EditionHi everyone, it's time for the July 2012 Edition of my super science circle - and for #sciencesunday . If you're interested in sciency posts from interesting and active people, import this circle and you'll have a delightful stream.Please share this circle... for Science!I've added a handful of people, removed a few, and generally cleaned things up.I'm always looking for more people to add to this circle. People who:1. Are active, posting at least a couple of times a week. But not too active to overwhelm the stream.2. Post regularly about science. Not exclusively, but regularly.If you think you should be in this circle, just post your info in the comments below. As always, I recommend that you import these people into a temporary circle and try them on for size. Only move people to your permanent circles if you want to keep following them. 2012-07-08 20:59:084165476124CC G+
Science on Google+6,950Natural SciencesThis circle will give you exposure to Astronomy, Biology, ​Chemistry, Ecology, ​​​​​Geology, and Neuroscience.If you have a science related degree, you are a science journalist, you are a K-12 science teacher, or you curate a science page, then add your profile/page to the database (http://goo.gl/yEg7M). Please note that you also have to circle +Science on Google+: A Public Database if you would like to be considered for shared circles.View underlying database: http://goo.gl/Yz8KRView most recent shared circles: http://goo.gl/nO7rB#sciencesunday #science #publiccircles #sharedcircles 2012-07-08 14:31:592602616CC G+
Haroon Abbasi215People Who are walking around the earth with Google Plus..... #sharedcircles  +Public Circles +Circle Plus +Circle Share +Public Circles +Shared Circles on G+ 2012-06-25 05:42:0950023616CC G+
Science on Google+5,856Natural SciencesThis circle will give you exposure to Astronomy/Space Sciences, Biology, ​Chemistry, Ecology,and ​​​​​​​​​​Geology/Earth Sciences.If you have a science related degree, you are a science journalist, you are a K-12 science teacher, or you curate a science page, then add your profile/page to the database (http://goo.gl/yEg7M). Please note that you also have to circle +Science on Google+: A Public Database if you would like to be considered for shared circles.View underlying database: http://goo.gl/Yz8KRView most recent shared circles: http://goo.gl/nO7rB#sciencesunday #science #publiccircles #sharedcircles 2012-06-24 14:59:112390620CC G+
Risto Linturi3,370This is my science circle - I am finding their insights valuable each day!2012-06-16 09:40:0350016620CC G+
Fraser Cain120,480Super Science Circle - June 2012 editionPlease reshare this circle... for Science!Just in time for summer reading, I offer you the latest edition of my Super Science Circle. This list contains almost 400 users of Google+ who are active and post science topics. I have personally evaluated everyone in this list, and made sure they meet my exacting criteria - I think you'll find they're a fantastic addition to any circle collection.As always, I suggest that you import these people into a fresh circle. Then evaluate them for a bit. Move your favorites over to more permanent circles.And I'm always looking for people to add to the list. If you post to Google+ at least a few times a week, and include a lot of science-oriented posts, please let me know and I'll add you for the future.P.S. I was really glad to find that very few people had gone inactive this time around. People are really getting active and engaged - definitely not a ghost town.P.P.S. A big thanks to +Science on Google+: A Public Database for gathering together a large number of science-oriented people. I was able to add about 100 people to my list.2012-06-16 01:22:0239664130109CC G+
Science on Google+5,521General Science Circle Updated 6/10 (Profiles Only)Please note that this will be the last General Science circle (i.e., we have exceeded the 500 person limit for shared circles), and +Allison Sekuler, +Chris Robinson, +Fraser Cain, +Rajini Rao, and +Robby Bowles are not included in the shared circle. Help keep #sciencesunday   trending by sharing this circle with your friends!If you have a science related degree, you are a science journalist, you are a K-12 science teacher, or you curate a science page, then add your profile/page to the database (http://goo.gl/yEg7M). Please note that you also have to circle +Science on Google+: A Public Database if you would like to be considered for shared circles.View underlying database: http://goo.gl/Yz8KRView most recent shared circles: http://goo.gl/nO7rB#sciencesunday #science #publiccircles  #sharedcircles 2012-06-10 19:42:0850024325CC G+
Science on Google+5,446General Science Circle (Profiles)Click on the following link to view the profiles in this circle: http://goo.gl/Yz8KR. If you have a science related degree, you are a science journalist, you are a K-12 science teacher, or you curate a science page, then add your profile/page to the database (http://goo.gl/yEg7M). Please note that you also have to circle +Science on Google+: A Public Database if you would like to be considered for shared circles.View underlying database: http://goo.gl/Yz8KRView most recent shared circles: http://goo.gl/nO7rB#sciencesunday #science #publiccircles #sharedcircles 2012-06-03 18:54:47490189CC G+
STEM Women on G+680STEM Women on G+ Shared Circle (Release 2)This is the first crowd-sourced, collaboratively curated circle of Women who work in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields that are also active on G+. We had some simple criteria for inclusion in this circle; every woman in this circle has a job that relates directly to STEM or is an advanced student of STEM. They are all active users of G+ and post Publicly about their STEM discipline regularly (i.e. at least once a week). • Import these people into a brand new circle, and then move people over into your permanent circles if you like what they post.• Reshare this post, to get the STEM goodness out to as many as people as possible :)• If we have missed someone that should be included in this circle in time for our next update, please nominate them at http://goo.gl/rvKEf. We will be actively curating this circle once a month or so, removing inactive users, adding new active users, so consider this a work in progress :)• Please also make sure that the nominee has added the STEM Women on G+ Brand Page to their circles (we cannot include the nominee in this shared circle unless she does that).--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------This circle is curated by +Buddhini Samarasinghe, +Rajini Rao, +Liz Krane, +Liz ℚuilty and +Christine Paluch. A HUGE thank you to everyone who supported this crowd-sourced effort by sharing the original post and by nominating people for it - this wouldn't have been possible without you!2012-05-08 21:56:29153136530CC G+
Buddhini Samarasinghe10,097STEM Women on G+ Shared CircleThis is the first crowd-sourced, collaboratively curated circle of Women who work in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields that are also active on G+. We had some simple criteria for inclusion in this circle; every woman in this circle has a job that relates directly to STEM or is an advanced student of STEM. They are all active users of G+ and post Publicly about their STEM discipline regularly (i.e. at least once a week). • Import these people into a brand new circle, and then move people over into your permanent circles if you like what they post.• Reshare this post, to get the STEM goodness out to as many as people as possible :)• If we have missed someone that should be included in this circle in time for our next update, please nominate them at http://goo.gl/rvKEf. We will be actively curating this circle once a month or so, removing inactive users, adding new active users, so consider this a work in progress :) --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------This circle is curated by +Buddhini Samarasinghe, +Rajini Rao, +Liz Krane, +Liz ℚuilty and +Christine Paluch. A HUGE thank you to everyone who supported this crowd-sourced effort by sharing the original post and by nominating people for it - this wouldn't have been possible without you!2012-03-14 04:08:191452712860CC G+

Top posts in the last 50 posts

Most comments: 33

posted image

2012-08-19 23:53:24 (33 comments, 1 reshares, 5 +1s)

Reason why I don't buy organic #156. 

At the Bethesda Farmers' market this morning, I chose a stand that was selling sweet corn. It was all organic, which I normally don't buy, but the person I was with said that this stand had the best stuff. Their corn was more expensive - $4.50 vs $3 for 6 - but I didn't realize that till after I'd paid. The leaves were nice and green so I was looking forward to some yummy sweet corn. Imagine my surprise when I came home and found this. 

One ear was lovely. One had very poor tip fill. Two had insect damage at the top (one was an earworm and one was a rootworm). Two were badly damaged by insects and had various fungi growing all over the ear, so I threw them away. I do not take risks with aflatoxin, thank you very much. So, for $4.50 I got less than 4 ears of corn.

It tasted ok, but sadly it wasn't even that tastyo... more »

Most reshares: 4

posted image

2012-10-13 20:43:56 (8 comments, 4 reshares, 12 +1s)

This article is a conflicted mess.

First, the author cites the Stanford study that says organic make no difference for nutrition, then says it doesn't matter because organic is really all about the environment. He cites a paper that showed organic yields are lower than conventional (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v485/n7397/full/nature11069.html), but this journalist apparently knows better about the subject than the three experts who wrote it because he blows the whole paper off (until the last paragraph). He completely neglected to mention the more recent Oxford review (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301479712004264) that also found that organic is not as good for the environment as people believe it to be.

He then proceeds to fall for the fallacy that organic is all small vegetables and conventional is all large grain for feed. He blames everythingbad... more »

Most plusones: 13

2012-06-22 15:37:10 (18 comments, 3 reshares, 13 +1s)

#sciencegirlthing  is pretty horrible, but I wanted to offer an anecdote as a caution against assuming it's all bad.

After the USA Science and Engineering Festival (Washington DC in April), I got on the metro and found myself sitting across from a little girl age 7 or so with her dad. Right before the doors close, in walks a Science Cheerleader. The girl's face lit up with a huge smile.

For about a 10 minute metro ride, the two discussed the science experiments that they had conducted at the festival, the cheerleader talked about her day job as a scientist, the girl talked about how she liked doing science at school... it was just so awesome how excited the girl was about science. I don't think cheerleading ever came up, but it was an effective icebreaker.

Would I have been as compelling a role model to the girl, in my plain jeans and top? Maybe. But thati... more »

Latest 50 posts

posted image

2013-09-26 11:45:02 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 3 +1s)

This makes me want to use G+ much more often!

A richer hashtag experience in Google Search

The #hashtags you see in Google+ posts are a useful way to discover conversations around a particular topic. In May we added related hashtags to the Google+ stream, turning any post into an opportunity to go deeper and explore what’s interesting to you.

Today we’re bringing a richer hashtag experience to Google Search. Here’s how it works:

- When you search on Google for a hashtag, say [#AmericasCup] or [#WaterfallWednesday], a set of relevant Google+ posts may appear to the right of regular results.
- You’ll only be able to see posts that have been shared publicly or shared with you.
- If you click on any of these posts you'll go to Google+, where you'll see the full set of relevant posts.
- You'll also see links to search for these hashtags on other social sites.

Today's update will be available (initially) to English language users on google.com and google.ca. It’ll be live within the next few hours, so give it a go and let us know what you think.

#googleplusupdate___This makes me want to use G+ much more often!

2013-09-25 14:32:50 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 0 +1s)

#canhazpdf  ? :D

I'm hoping to get the pdfs for the following papers. Thank you very much!

Liang Jing, Bing Chen, Baiyu Zhang, and Jisi Zheng (2012). Monte Carlo Simulation–Aided Analytic Hierarchy Process Approach: Case Study of Assessing Preferred Non-Point-Source Pollution Control Best Management Practices. J. Environ. Eng. 139(5): 618-626.   http://ascelibrary.org/doi/abs/10.1061/%28ASCE%29EE.1943-7870.0000673?journalCode=joeedu&

R. Banuelas and J. Antony (2004) Modified analytic hierarchy process to incorporate uncertainty and managerial aspects. Int. J. Prod. Res. 42 (18): 3841-3872.   http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00207540410001699183

#canhazpdf  ? :D

I'm hoping to get the pdfs for the following papers. Thank you very much!

Liang Jing, Bing Chen, Baiyu Zhang, and Jisi Zheng (2012). Monte Carlo Simulation–Aided Analytic Hierarchy Process Approach: Case Study of Assessing Preferred Non-Point-Source Pollution Control Best Management Practices. J. Environ. Eng. 139(5): 618-626.   http://ascelibrary.org/doi/abs/10.1061/%28ASCE%29EE.1943-7870.0000673?journalCode=joeedu&

R. Banuelas and J. Antony (2004) Modified analytic hierarchy process to incorporate uncertainty and managerial aspects. Int. J. Prod. Res. 42 (18): 3841-3872.   http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00207540410001699183___

2013-09-11 01:35:49 (22 comments, 0 reshares, 0 +1s)

Let's say you see a child being spanked and you are concerned, but it is't bad enough to call the police. The police just aren't able to act when abuse is at that relatively minor level. The next day, you see the child being beaten. Should you not call the police now because you couldn't before? 

I do not understand this line of "reasoning".

Let's say you see a child being spanked and you are concerned, but it is't bad enough to call the police. The police just aren't able to act when abuse is at that relatively minor level. The next day, you see the child being beaten. Should you not call the police now because you couldn't before? 

I do not understand this line of "reasoning".___

2013-09-02 23:11:30 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 1 +1s)

I've often seen the claim that politicians are bought off by their campaign contributions. And I have seen a few anecdotes that seem to prove this true. But the plural of anecdote is not data. Has anyone seen an actual analysis of bills proposed, votes, etc compared to campaign contributions?

I've often seen the claim that politicians are bought off by their campaign contributions. And I have seen a few anecdotes that seem to prove this true. But the plural of anecdote is not data. Has anyone seen an actual analysis of bills proposed, votes, etc compared to campaign contributions?___

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2013-09-02 23:05:37 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 4 +1s)

The recent destruction of the scientific work at the International Rice Research Institute was certainly appalling. But the side effect of the quality discussion that ensued was at least useful. And the rallying of the scientific community to condemn the vandalism was also nice to see.

Having Michael Pollan even say the trials should continue was probably the biggest surprise.

There is a petition to condemn the actions that has thousands of signatures now. And unlike typical online petitions, this one is largely signed by people whose hair is not on fire. The comments have been made available in a giant list, and they were really hopeful and knowledgeable.

When it hit 5000+ signatures, I extracted the comments and created a word cloud of the common words*. I really liked the way it came out.

*Technical note: I combined all the instances of golden + rice so they... more »

The recent destruction of the scientific work at the International Rice Research Institute was certainly appalling. But the side effect of the quality discussion that ensued was at least useful. And the rallying of the scientific community to condemn the vandalism was also nice to see.

Having Michael Pollan even say the trials should continue was probably the biggest surprise.

There is a petition to condemn the actions that has thousands of signatures now. And unlike typical online petitions, this one is largely signed by people whose hair is not on fire. The comments have been made available in a giant list, and they were really hopeful and knowledgeable.

When it hit 5000+ signatures, I extracted the comments and created a word cloud of the common words*. I really liked the way it came out.

*Technical note: I combined all the instances of golden + rice so they would be one word together #goldenrice .

Here's the petition. http://www.change.org/petitions/global-scientific-community-condemns-the-recent-destruction-of-field-trials-of-golden-rice-in-the-philippines

Here's Michael Pollan in the NYT: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/27/from-mark-lynas-to-michael-pollan-agreement-that-golden-rice-trials-should-proceed/?smid=tw-share&_r=0

Here is the IRRI: http://irri.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=12638:malnutrition-fight-not-over-golden-rice-research-continues&lang=en

#GMO  ___

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2013-08-30 12:19:27 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 1 +1s)

Saw a post on "Food Safety News" that I just had to reply to http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/08/organic-foods-the-safety-question Here's my comment in case it isn't posted...

This article was reasonably informative, though the lack of citations makes it impossible for readers to find where you got this information. I'm assuming that the author used sources, so why weren't they linked here?

There was one phrase that I just couldn't let go without comment: "naturally occurring toxins (which some research has suggested are equally as potent as synthetic toxins)"

Seriously? Have you ever heard of ricin? Nicotine or caffeine? Plants produce some deadly stuff! Natural toxins are certainly as potent as synthetic toxins, and many natural toxins are MORE potent than many synthetic toxins. A quick and easy primer on Wikipedia (with sources):... more »

Saw a post on "Food Safety News" that I just had to reply to http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/08/organic-foods-the-safety-question Here's my comment in case it isn't posted...

This article was reasonably informative, though the lack of citations makes it impossible for readers to find where you got this information. I'm assuming that the author used sources, so why weren't they linked here?

There was one phrase that I just couldn't let go without comment: "naturally occurring toxins (which some research has suggested are equally as potent as synthetic toxins)"

Seriously? Have you ever heard of ricin? Nicotine or caffeine? Plants produce some deadly stuff! Natural toxins are certainly as potent as synthetic toxins, and many natural toxins are MORE potent than many synthetic toxins. A quick and easy primer on Wikipedia (with sources): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_poisonous_plants We've known for a long time that the grand majority (99+%) of pesticides that we eat are produced by the plants we eat: http://www.pnas.org/content/87/19/7777.full.pdf

The reason for all this natural toxicity is obvious: plants can't run away, so they protect themselves with chemicals. This holds true for all plants, including those grown organically.___

2013-05-19 06:22:35 (0 comments, 2 reshares, 7 +1s)

Is the Grass Always Greener? Comparing the Environmental Impact of Conventional, Natural and Grass-Fed Beef Production Systems by Judith L. Capper

@ScienceBasedRD shared this on twitter, and I have a few quick observations...

First, the conclusion seems reasonable - that conventional beef is more resource efficient. While a unit of land under pasture may be less harmed, you get a lot less beef from it. It just takes a lot longer for a grass finished cow to get to market weight - and that means more feed is needed for daily maintenance (the calories all animals burn just to stay alive, move around, etc) plus more waste over the animal's lifetime. 

However, modeling is not easy. The more variables you add the greater the chance that there will be errors. Thankfully modeling environmental impact of cows is not quite as difficult as modeling global climate change, buti... more »

Is the Grass Always Greener? Comparing the Environmental Impact of Conventional, Natural and Grass-Fed Beef Production Systems by Judith L. Capper

@ScienceBasedRD shared this on twitter, and I have a few quick observations...

First, the conclusion seems reasonable - that conventional beef is more resource efficient. While a unit of land under pasture may be less harmed, you get a lot less beef from it. It just takes a lot longer for a grass finished cow to get to market weight - and that means more feed is needed for daily maintenance (the calories all animals burn just to stay alive, move around, etc) plus more waste over the animal's lifetime. 

However, modeling is not easy. The more variables you add the greater the chance that there will be errors. Thankfully modeling environmental impact of cows is not quite as difficult as modeling global climate change, but it's still pretty hard. I'm not sure how accurate a model will be in telling you the actual impact of the different farming systems, especially if some of the model variables are based on assumptions rather than data.

As I go through the paper, the first thing that strikes me as odd is figure 2.1.2. Why include dairy for conventional and natural but not grass fed? There are grass fed dairies, so why leave them out? It seems like an uneven comparison. The methods say "As dairy calves entering the beef system are characteristically finished within feedlots and cull dairy cows would not be eligible to be sold as grass-fed beef, the GFD system did not include any animals from the dairy industry." But that doesn't include existing grassfed dairies. It would be nice to see the results with grassfed dairies too so we can see what happens. Perhaps if grassfed added dairies that would help even the balance.

There are other aspects that were included that surely favor the grass fed farms. According to the methods, Jude included not only pesticide and fertilizer for feed production but even the impact of production of the pesticides and fertilizer. She also included average transport of animals for conventional and natural while grassfed was assumed to live on farm for their entire lives. But these are relatively small impacts compared to animal waste and water as far as I can tell.

When I get to the results (table 2) the first thing I notice is water use. It says that conventional uses 485,698 liters while grassfed uses 1,957,224 liters. Cows that live longer need to drink more water, sure, but this difference seems too wide. The huge difference is based on the assumption that 50% of pasture land in the grass fed system is irrigated. When that is changed to lower % irrigated the water use declines sharply: 25% 1,044,070, 15% 678,808, 5% 313,547. Irrigation for crops for grain finished cows "was calculated from application rates and proportions of crops irrigated according to the Census of Agriculture Ranch and Irrigation Survey".

Due to the differences in water use alone, I'm wondering what the environmental impact is per region of the country (or other countries, too). This information would be useful for consumers considering whether to "buy local" as well as for state governments, etc looking to make policy decisions. I'm surprised regional differences in water use isn't discussed. 

Overall, the assumptions seem reasonable, except for perhaps for water use and the missing consideration of grass fed dairies. Overall, conventional beef does seem to be more efficient than natural or grassfed. 

I have to add one thing that was not in the paper, one thing that proponents of animal ag do not like to think about  - and even get very angry if you dare mention it!

Cows are not efficient at turning plants into meat. Even the most efficient animals still have to use part of their food to make bones and other in-edibles*, to move around, to heat their bodies, etc and make waste. Why loose so much energy through the animal when we can just eat the plants ourselves? Of course, we have to eat more grams of plant matter to get the same nutrition that we would get from meat, but the overall efficiency is still better, not to mention the health benefits of a diet rich in whole grains and veggies.

This is basic biology - higher trophic levels are less efficient than lower trophic levels. If we act as primary consumers rather than secondary consumers (at least some or most of the time) then the environment wins. Of course meat can be a healthy part of a balanced diet, but it's dangerous to assume that 200lbs yearly per person is a sustainable level of meat consumption, especially when we have developing countries hungry for more and more meat. We just don't have the land or the water (even if we assume the most efficient cows ever) to allow for all of the waste that comes with being a secondary consumer. 

To me, the solution is to aim for production of animal products that is as efficient as possible (including consideration of the environment) but also to decrease overall meat consumption and/or move meat consumption to more efficient animals based on the land types that are available yet not better used for other functions. This will increase efficiency of the entire food system as well as improve biodiversity on farms (growing more diverse grains, etc instead of just cattle feed) and improve human diets.

* Yes, some of the in-edibles can be useful products. However, many have more efficient alternatives but the animal product is used just because it's a cheap byproduct of meat. Finding a use for byproducts might make the system more efficient, but we also need to look outside the system to see if other alternatives are actually more efficient. ___

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2013-04-11 14:21:58 (3 comments, 0 reshares, 6 +1s)

Research has shown that the majority of consumers just have more important things to worry about than GMOs, and that even when there are labels and they state they will avoid GMOs, they still buy foods with GMOs. And this is despite anti GMO folks doing their best to whip up a froth made of bad science and poor information. 

Some argue that this lack of interest is due to a lack of education on the subject. For example:

"a survey conducted last year by the B.C. Growers' Association found that 76 per cent of Canadians feel that the federal government hasn't given them enough information on GM foods. Another nine per cent said they’d never even heard of GM foods."

I can appreciate that people want more information, but this isn't 1980. There is a TON of information available online from governments and universities, as well as companies, NGOs andblogs... more »

Research has shown that the majority of consumers just have more important things to worry about than GMOs, and that even when there are labels and they state they will avoid GMOs, they still buy foods with GMOs. And this is despite anti GMO folks doing their best to whip up a froth made of bad science and poor information. 

Some argue that this lack of interest is due to a lack of education on the subject. For example:

"a survey conducted last year by the B.C. Growers' Association found that 76 per cent of Canadians feel that the federal government hasn't given them enough information on GM foods. Another nine per cent said they’d never even heard of GM foods."

I can appreciate that people want more information, but this isn't 1980. There is a TON of information available online from governments and universities, as well as companies, NGOs and blogs. Don't have internet at home? Try the library. 

While government agencies and universities can do a better job of presenting information clearly, is it really the responsibility of the government to start an education campaign on GMOs? Where would such education be held - perhaps in high school? Do we really want them to do this, considering that most schools can't manage to teach biology? 

Also, aren't there WAY more pressing issues than GMOs? I'm thinking basic food safety, food allergies, basic nutrition and how to read food labels... plus there's so many non-food issues like vaccinations, sexual health, how to take care of an infant, first aid, how to weatherize your home, and so many other things that we really need to know!___

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2013-03-13 02:25:16 (7 comments, 2 reshares, 12 +1s)

Wondering about Colony Collapse Disorder? Check out this introduction by +Biofortified's resident entomologist! http://www.biofortified.org/2013/03/colony-collapse-disorder-an-introduction/

Wondering about Colony Collapse Disorder? Check out this introduction by +Biofortified's resident entomologist! http://www.biofortified.org/2013/03/colony-collapse-disorder-an-introduction/___

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2013-02-26 21:12:52 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 0 +1s)

Need moar help!

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has a great website where you can search by county to see what endangered / threatened organisms live there, and it will generate a CSV or Excel doc with the list. This is great, but what if I have a list of 300 counties!?  Right now, I'm doing this by hand, yay :(

There's gotta be a way to make a tool that will take my list of counties as input, then spit out a CSV with the organisms and associated info by county. I'd like to ask FWS for help, but don't even know what terms to use to describe what I'm looking for.

How can I summarize this in a way that a computer scientist / database person will immediately understand?

Need moar help!

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has a great website where you can search by county to see what endangered / threatened organisms live there, and it will generate a CSV or Excel doc with the list. This is great, but what if I have a list of 300 counties!?  Right now, I'm doing this by hand, yay :(

There's gotta be a way to make a tool that will take my list of counties as input, then spit out a CSV with the organisms and associated info by county. I'd like to ask FWS for help, but don't even know what terms to use to describe what I'm looking for.

How can I summarize this in a way that a computer scientist / database person will immediately understand?___

2013-02-25 21:56:13 (8 comments, 0 reshares, 0 +1s)

Seeking experienced users of ArcGIS...

I have multiple poly and line layers that represent areas that should be >10 miles away from my points. When I upload a set of points, I have been looking at each point individually and flagging those that are <10mi from the nearest feature(s) for further analysis.

If I could automate the 10mi analysis part that would save me and my team so much time!! But as a new ArcGIS user, I don't even know enough terminology to search for what I want. It seems like the Buffer Point analysis might play a role...

I'd be greatly appreciative of help! Thanks!    #GIS  

Seeking experienced users of ArcGIS...

I have multiple poly and line layers that represent areas that should be >10 miles away from my points. When I upload a set of points, I have been looking at each point individually and flagging those that are <10mi from the nearest feature(s) for further analysis.

If I could automate the 10mi analysis part that would save me and my team so much time!! But as a new ArcGIS user, I don't even know enough terminology to search for what I want. It seems like the Buffer Point analysis might play a role...

I'd be greatly appreciative of help! Thanks!    #GIS  ___

2012-12-18 14:04:54 (7 comments, 1 reshares, 0 +1s)

Is there a way to link multiple gmail adresses to one G+ account?

Is there a way to link multiple gmail adresses to one G+ account?___

2012-12-06 21:25:13 (4 comments, 0 reshares, 3 +1s)

Hey genomicists! I'm trying to find out the current state of genomics in medicine. The AMA frustratingly has no statement on the topic.
Have you seen any papers on clinical use of genomics / genetic testing?
How much is it used?
Is there any evidence that patients are more likely to make behavioral changes in response to learning their genotype than they are without it? 
What about false alarms, as +Mary Mangan mentioned earlier https://plus.google.com/u/0/115686712405727979216/posts/HTLiHq3rbe1

Hey genomicists! I'm trying to find out the current state of genomics in medicine. The AMA frustratingly has no statement on the topic.
Have you seen any papers on clinical use of genomics / genetic testing?
How much is it used?
Is there any evidence that patients are more likely to make behavioral changes in response to learning their genotype than they are without it? 
What about false alarms, as +Mary Mangan mentioned earlier https://plus.google.com/u/0/115686712405727979216/posts/HTLiHq3rbe1___

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2012-11-26 23:36:13 (7 comments, 0 reshares, 5 +1s)

Hm. I can't comment on this post anymore, but I wanted to share that the ProQuest link to her PhD is working again. Vandana Shiva may have other degrees (perhaps a masters in physics from India? but I didn't find any record of such) but she definitely has a masters in philosophy and a PhD in philosophy. http://www.biofortified.org/community/forum/?mingleforumaction=viewtopic&t=75.0#postid-1428

Regardless of what a person's politics or truthfulness in the public sphere may be, I personally do not think it is acceptable for someone who doesn't have a graduate degree in science to go around calling themselves a scientist as Shiva has been doing for years. In some cases, someone with a bachelors in science or even no degree can become a scientist based on the work they do but that is very rare.

Maybe there's more to the story - hidden degrees, or past experience that forwh... more »

Today, 6 more Notable Women in Science are highlighted at +Double X Science. ___Hm. I can't comment on this post anymore, but I wanted to share that the ProQuest link to her PhD is working again. Vandana Shiva may have other degrees (perhaps a masters in physics from India? but I didn't find any record of such) but she definitely has a masters in philosophy and a PhD in philosophy. http://www.biofortified.org/community/forum/?mingleforumaction=viewtopic&t=75.0#postid-1428

Regardless of what a person's politics or truthfulness in the public sphere may be, I personally do not think it is acceptable for someone who doesn't have a graduate degree in science to go around calling themselves a scientist as Shiva has been doing for years. In some cases, someone with a bachelors in science or even no degree can become a scientist based on the work they do but that is very rare.

Maybe there's more to the story - hidden degrees, or past experience that for whatever reason never make it to her bios but the evidence as far as I can tell shows that Shiva is not a scientist. If she really does have the publications, degrees, and experience to show she's a physicist - where is that evidence?

This is sort of a sensitive issue to me because I no longer work in science. I have a PhD in genetics, did proper science, and published in scientific journals, but now I work in science policy - what am I? Am I a scientist? I think like one, but is that enough? I don't know, and it bothers me. I don't feel comfortable calling myself a scientist present tense since I don't "do" science anymore. I often feel uncomfortable calling myself a veteran, too. Sure, I served in the army, active duty, and I even served overseas, but I never was deployed. I do not under any circumstances want to claim that I am something that I am not. 

Maybe I'm just being sensitive but I think it's unfair for someone who has not demonstrated at all that they are a scientist in training or practice to go around claiming to be a scientist, and I also think it's unfair for other people to lump such an imposter with other scientists.

I don't say this to be mean or anything like that - I just think it's not fair to those who have actually put in their time as scientists. Call Shiva a "Notable Woman in" anything else but she is not a scientist or a physicist.

Sorry :( I really am sorry, but this had to be said.

2012-11-26 16:47:10 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 0 +1s)

Hoping for some statistics help....

The US Office of Personel Management (OPM) has released the results of the 2012 employee satisfaction survey (files available at the link below). Most of the suevey uses a Likert scale, and they summarize the data as "% of positive responses".

This is the first year that they've asked a demographics question for veterans: "Have you ever served on Active Duty in the Armed Forces?"

OPM has nicely provided summary information for all government employees and I was able to quickly see which questions had a significantly different response for veterans vs non-veterans (http://fedview.opm.gov/2012/Reports/MilComp.sap?AGY=ALL). However, I want to compare veterans vs non-veterans responses for just NIH.

I can get the raw data for NIH from the Public Use Data File (http://fedview.opm.gov/2012/EVSDATA/) where NIH... more »

Hoping for some statistics help....

The US Office of Personel Management (OPM) has released the results of the 2012 employee satisfaction survey (files available at the link below). Most of the suevey uses a Likert scale, and they summarize the data as "% of positive responses".

This is the first year that they've asked a demographics question for veterans: "Have you ever served on Active Duty in the Armed Forces?"

OPM has nicely provided summary information for all government employees and I was able to quickly see which questions had a significantly different response for veterans vs non-veterans (http://fedview.opm.gov/2012/Reports/MilComp.sap?AGY=ALL). However, I want to compare veterans vs non-veterans responses for just NIH.

I can get the raw data for NIH from the Public Use Data File (http://fedview.opm.gov/2012/EVSDATA/) where NIH is subagency HE08. It's pretty easy to determine the mode or the % of positive responses for veterans and non-veterans. However, there's another level of complexity that I don't know how to handle.

The demographics for each agency are known. Because not everyone responds, the respondents don't match the overall demographics. So, OPM creates a weight for each response that allows the responses to then meet the demographics. How can I factor in the weight? Or does it not matter? Perhaps it would be detrimental if I used the weights because they are for the government as a whole not for NIH specifically?

Thanks in advance for any help that you can provide!___

2012-11-17 21:59:41 (2 comments, 1 reshares, 6 +1s)

I just... arg. Don't Hansen et al know that they would be more convincing if they'd stop citing science that was incredibly badly done? I mean, Seralini and Aris? Really?

I just... arg. Don't Hansen et al know that they would be more convincing if they'd stop citing science that was incredibly badly done? I mean, Seralini and Aris? Really?___

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2012-11-08 21:37:19 (4 comments, 2 reshares, 7 +1s)

+Mark Bittmann, supporter of Prop 37, has written what I think is a very important paragraph in a place that might not be seen by many (SoCal Public Radio website). Here is what he said:

[Interviewer] "For the Yes-vote campaign on prop 37, do you think they made a mistake in using the method of scaring people about what might be in their food?"

[Bittman] “I don’t know that I think it is a mistake in general to scare people about what’s in their food but I think there is very little evidence that eating foods that contain GMOs is dangerous, it doesn't mean that its not I just don’t think that its something you can categorically say at this point. I do think that GMOs are overrated and I think that they have done more damage to the environmental landscape than they have helped it. Having said all of that I think it was a mistake to sink to the level that the yesvote had ... more »

+Mark Bittmann, supporter of Prop 37, has written what I think is a very important paragraph in a place that might not be seen by many (SoCal Public Radio website). Here is what he said:

[Interviewer] "For the Yes-vote campaign on prop 37, do you think they made a mistake in using the method of scaring people about what might be in their food?"

[Bittman] “I don’t know that I think it is a mistake in general to scare people about what’s in their food but I think there is very little evidence that eating foods that contain GMOs is dangerous, it doesn't mean that its not I just don’t think that its something you can categorically say at this point. I do think that GMOs are overrated and I think that they have done more damage to the environmental landscape than they have helped it. Having said all of that I think it was a mistake to sink to the level that the yes vote had sunk to saying ‘GMOs are going to kill you GMOs are bad for you,’ because the science isn’t there and you want to be right, and if the right is on your side you might as well tell the truth and not exaggerate. GMOs themselves, it’s not clear that they are evil. Being not so great or not as good as promised or being somewhat damaging or problematic is not the same as being evil or carcinogenic.”

Ignoring that first clause about it not being a mistake to scare people about food (that really doesn't sit right with me), this is a very insightful statement with take home messages for everyone. 

GMOs as a group do have some issues, particularly with implementation (as do many agricultural methods and some non-GMO crop traits). People who generally support biotechnology do not help themselves when they ignore the problems and instead make sweeping statements about how great they are. Of course, it also holds true that talk of GMO carcinogenicity and other statements not supported by the science do not help people who are opponents of biotechnology.

Exaggeration is often done for the sake of simplifying a complex story, but people deserve the whole story. I call on Mark Bittman, +Michael Pollan*, and all other food writers and journalists to do a better job at explaining the complexity of not just GMOs but of all food and agriculture subjects. 

I call on food scientists, farmers, geneticists, agronomists, toxicologists, and everyone else involved in the science or practice of food and agriculture to make themselves available to food writers and journalists, and/or to write articles and blog posts themselves. We hold the information that the journalists need to present a more complete picture - if we can resist the temptation to exaggerate and oversimplify!

All of us need to be better at distinguishing between value-based arguments and science-based arguments. All of us need to be more creative at providing science-based information in an easy-to-understand way without dumbing it down.

Now, what can you do? I can't help with everything but I can offer one avenue that I hope will be useful to the conversation at large!

I am a co-executive editor of the Biofortified Blog at http://biofortified.org. We are an independent group blog with the goal of communicating science-based information on agriculture and food, especially plant genetics and GMOs. We are always looking for guest authors. If there is a topic related to food or ag that you are interested in writing about, especially if you have personal experience or expertise in the area, please contact us about writing a post: http://www.biofortified.org/blog/write-for-biofortified/ (or cross post from your own blog or website).

As for labeling in particular - we have an opportunity now to improve the discussion. Scientists aren't opponents of labeling, we (in general) just don't like the twisting of science in support of an agenda, any agenda. Scientists can help craft stronger arguments for labeling, a better regulatory system, etc - but only if GMO opponents allow us to. Stop calling us all shills and welcome us to the conversation. We are here, waiting. Here's one idea from +Kevin Folta http://kfolta.blogspot.com/2012/11/proposition-371-good-next-step.html

* Specifically, Pollan has recently left behind his proud tradition of solid journalism, instead promoting bad science in support of Prop 37. Let's all hope he returns to setting a good example for other writers instead of being an example of how far a celebrity can fall for the sake of an agenda.___

2012-11-01 04:03:37 (11 comments, 1 reshares, 2 +1s)

This website really disturbs me. Using religion to force an agenda is never ok. It is especially not ok when the agenda is filled with misunderstanding and even outright lies about science. Shame on these religious leaders.

via @kellymoltzen on Twitter.

This website really disturbs me. Using religion to force an agenda is never ok. It is especially not ok when the agenda is filled with misunderstanding and even outright lies about science. Shame on these religious leaders.

via @kellymoltzen on Twitter.___

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2012-10-18 20:16:59 (3 comments, 2 reshares, 8 +1s)

You know what really bothers me about GMO labels (both mandatory and voluntary)? Inconsistency. It's inconsistent with regard to genetics, and inconsistent with regard to the millions of other factors that may or may not be interesting and/or biologically significant about the food you eat. 

Let's consider genetics first. The argument given by proponents of Mandatory GMO Labels is that they have a right to know about this genetic change. Yet, they ignore many massive genetic changes that occur naturally and those that are human-induced. As cool as it would be for someone like me, it is probably impractical to have the genome of all the plants and animals that go into our food (not to mention the expressome). Yet, there are major changes that we can indicate that have a far, far greater effect on the content of a food than the insertion of a single gene. Let's consider a few.
more »

You know what really bothers me about GMO labels (both mandatory and voluntary)? Inconsistency. It's inconsistent with regard to genetics, and inconsistent with regard to the millions of other factors that may or may not be interesting and/or biologically significant about the food you eat. 

Let's consider genetics first. The argument given by proponents of Mandatory GMO Labels is that they have a right to know about this genetic change. Yet, they ignore many massive genetic changes that occur naturally and those that are human-induced. As cool as it would be for someone like me, it is probably impractical to have the genome of all the plants and animals that go into our food (not to mention the expressome). Yet, there are major changes that we can indicate that have a far, far greater effect on the content of a food than the insertion of a single gene. Let's consider a few.

Hybridization, the process of creating two inbred lines that are then mated, results in many changes (http://passel.unl.edu/pages/informationmodule.php?idinformationmodule=1075412493&topicorder=9&maxto=12&minto=1). While non-hybrids have a combination of genes in homozygous and heterozygous states, the grand majority of genes in a hybrid are heterozyous. You can just look at the parents and the child to see there is a LOT happening there, and it is even more striking at the genetic level. Of course, this is not just a scientific difference - some people have a big ethical problem with hybrids, either because they are not natural or because many (most?) are developed by large companies. Why not label them?

Tissue culture, the process of growing a plant from a bit of tissue (think stem cells) rather than from a seed or cutting, results in unpredictable change  via mutations. These mutations are manageable through backcrossing and other methods (http://academicsreview.org/reviewed-content/genetic-roulette/section-2/2-2-plant-tissue-cultures/), but are genetic changes nonetheless. Tissue culture certainly induces changes that can be scientifically quantified, and some may believe there is an ethical difference. Tissue culture does not happen in nature at all. Note: tissue culture is done not just as part of some types of the genetic engineering process, but is a normal part of plant propagation for many food species, including bananas and potatoes.

Speaking of mutations - what about mutagenesis? In order to get new mutations that are useful, scientists bombard seeds and other plant parts (and animals too!) with radiation and chemical mutagens, and even send seeds into space! This results in a ton of mutations that don't have a significant effect, many that have a negative effect, and a few that might be beneficial. As with tissue culture, most of the mutations can be bred out through backcrossing, but some remain,and we don't know what all of the changes are. If you think mutations should be labeled, consider that all living things are constantly mutating at a low rate, thanks to sunlight and other natural mutagens. 

So much more to say about this - I but need to go do other stuff right now.  :)
Later, I hope to discuss why labeling some of the major traits (no matter their origin) would be far more useful than stating the origin of genetic changes.

For a similar POV, but one that discusses much more than the genetics, from +Norm Benson, see the link below.___

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2012-10-13 20:43:56 (8 comments, 4 reshares, 12 +1s)

This article is a conflicted mess.

First, the author cites the Stanford study that says organic make no difference for nutrition, then says it doesn't matter because organic is really all about the environment. He cites a paper that showed organic yields are lower than conventional (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v485/n7397/full/nature11069.html), but this journalist apparently knows better about the subject than the three experts who wrote it because he blows the whole paper off (until the last paragraph). He completely neglected to mention the more recent Oxford review (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301479712004264) that also found that organic is not as good for the environment as people believe it to be.

He then proceeds to fall for the fallacy that organic is all small vegetables and conventional is all large grain for feed. He blames everythingbad... more »

This article is a conflicted mess.

First, the author cites the Stanford study that says organic make no difference for nutrition, then says it doesn't matter because organic is really all about the environment. He cites a paper that showed organic yields are lower than conventional (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v485/n7397/full/nature11069.html), but this journalist apparently knows better about the subject than the three experts who wrote it because he blows the whole paper off (until the last paragraph). He completely neglected to mention the more recent Oxford review (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301479712004264) that also found that organic is not as good for the environment as people believe it to be.

He then proceeds to fall for the fallacy that organic is all small vegetables and conventional is all large grain for feed. He blames everything bad under the sun on conventional, nevermind the fact that the reason why so much grain is produced is to feed the animals whose meat Americans demand. The fact that Americans are fat meat eaters is the fault of conventional agriculture*, he implies. And of course no pro organic article is complete without saying that non-organic farmers are stupid.

It gets a little better from there but not much. Then the last paragraph comes from out of the blue! He says - We will have to develop a "hybrid path in agriculture" - but where was that when you were saying conventional is the devil!? Where was that idea when you titled the article "Only Organics Can Feed the Hungry World: Here's Why"!?

Of course organic is no silver bullet. It is a combination of methods that were not chosen for their ability to produce a healthful product or for reduced harm for the environment. Instead, methods are included in organic arbitrarily, because they are "natural", whatever that means, and disregards the fact that many "non-organic" methods are safer and result in less environmental harm. 

What will feed the world is a less dogmatic attitude about agriculture and more of the stuff that this author saves for a brief mention hidden at the end of a rant against conventional ag.

*In some ways, yes, the relatively cheap meat and sugar that agriculture produces has made Americans fat, but we need to be realistic here. The shift from physical jobs to sitting jobs plays a huge factor. Farmers grow what processors will buy and processors make what consumers will buy. Sorry folks, but those massive fields of corn are due to your desire for meat and cheese three or more meals per day every day. Stop buying it and they'll stop growing it.___

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2012-10-05 22:57:05 (2 comments, 1 reshares, 2 +1s)

I've mentioned YNAB to more than a few friends in the past few months, with quite a few wanting to know more - so I wanted to write a quick testimonial and attempt to convince everyone to use this amazing software. No I am not being paid for this endorsement, but they should pay me! :)

The Problem

When I was working on my thesis, I spent a lot of money at restaurants and on other things. I was like, "I deserve it, I'm working on my thesis!" Then, I had a rather expensive cross country move. Then, I started my new job and I was all,  "I'm a grown up, I have a real job, so I can spend lots of money!" Except my "real job" actually doesn't pay that well. At all.

Understandably, my spouse wasn't happy with me. He had been attempting to budget for the past few months. Yet, before that, he was all, "I'm in lawsch... more »

I've mentioned YNAB to more than a few friends in the past few months, with quite a few wanting to know more - so I wanted to write a quick testimonial and attempt to convince everyone to use this amazing software. No I am not being paid for this endorsement, but they should pay me! :)

The Problem

When I was working on my thesis, I spent a lot of money at restaurants and on other things. I was like, "I deserve it, I'm working on my thesis!" Then, I had a rather expensive cross country move. Then, I started my new job and I was all,  "I'm a grown up, I have a real job, so I can spend lots of money!" Except my "real job" actually doesn't pay that well. At all.

Understandably, my spouse wasn't happy with me. He had been attempting to budget for the past few months. Yet, before that, he was all, "I'm in law school, I have to study! So I need Starbucks and fast food!" 

Before that, we were both spending too much in Iowa on electronics and eating out and whatever struck our fancy. We were fresh out of the military and having fun!

All of these things added up and our finances were looking pretty dire as we were getting older and it was time to plan for retirement, maybe having a family, hopefully buying a house in a very expensive area... 

I tell you all of this because I wanted to express that we were not starting out from a neutral place. We had issues, just like everyone else. It was starting to cause fights, the last thing we needed while living apart for school and work.

The Solution

Enter Mint, a budgeting software that was pretty good. It was better than nothing and started to help. It's not very well coded, though. But then we found YNAB! 

YNAB aka You Need A Budget is an amazing budgeting software that starts with the premise that every dollar has a job. The goal is to pay each month's bills with last month's salary so you don't have to worry about when a bill payment gets taken from your account.The software is easy to use, letting you easily separate out your receipts for each category and enter in receipts on the go using your iPhone or Android device. 

Most important of all, the YNAB developers recommend that spouses get "His" and "Hers" budgets. Once we started budgeting, there were more than a few discussions on why one of us was spending so much on dining out without the other, or happy hours with coworkers, etc. The His and Hers budgets solved that problem right away. It encourages me to save up if I want a more expensive item. 

Overall, YNAB helps me think about the money I spend. It allows me to spend the right amount on each category without feeling guilty or getting into  fights with the spouse. They have a 30 day free trial that I highly recommend you try right away!

Even if you don't try the software, check out their free book: http://www.youneedabudget.com/method/the-book___

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2012-10-03 14:04:26 (0 comments, 1 reshares, 6 +1s)

There are a lot of assertions made by Benbrook that just aren't supported. 

Benbrook says "Applications later in the growing season will be more likely to lead to residues in silage or forage crops. As a result, herbicide residues in milk, meat, or other animal products might become more common."
Citation, please! Also, how is this different than any other farming system that uses herbicides? Consider the example that I pointed out earlier - how can late applications of glyphosate to wheat and barley be blamed on GE when there is no GE wheat or barley?

Benbrook gives us a long list of problems seen with glyphosate (parenthetical insertions are mine): 

"A long list of environmental effects can be triggered, or made worse, by the more intensive herbicide use required to keep pace with weeds in farming systems heavily reliant on herbicide-resistantc... more »

There are a lot of assertions made by Benbrook that just aren't supported. 

Benbrook says "Applications later in the growing season will be more likely to lead to residues in silage or forage crops. As a result, herbicide residues in milk, meat, or other animal products might become more common."
Citation, please! Also, how is this different than any other farming system that uses herbicides? Consider the example that I pointed out earlier - how can late applications of glyphosate to wheat and barley be blamed on GE when there is no GE wheat or barley?

Benbrook gives us a long list of problems seen with glyphosate (parenthetical insertions are mine): 

"A long list of environmental effects can be triggered, or made worse, by the more intensive herbicide use required to keep pace with weeds in farming systems heavily reliant on herbicide-resistant crops (is herbicide use really more intensive, or is it just switched from one type of herbicides to another?). Glyphosate has been shown to impair soil microbial communities in ways that can increase plant vulnerability to pathogens, while also reducing availability of certain soil minerals and micronutrients (not really, see http://www.biofortified.org/2011/02/does-glyphosate-restrict-crop-mineral-uptake/). Landscapes dominated by herbicide-resistant crops support fewer insect and bird species; e.g., a study in the American Midwest reported a 58% decline in milkweed and an 81% drop in monarch butterflies from 1999 to 2010 (this has nothing to do with GE but with planting field edge to field edge, reducing areas with weeds that create habitat for monarchs and other animals). Heavy use of glyphosate can reduce earthworm viability and water use efficiency (surely, so would any heavy herbicide use!). Several studies have documented  reductions in nitrogen fixation in herbicide-resistant soybean fields sprayed with glyphosate. Transgene flow from herbicide-resistant crops can occur via multiple mechanisms and can persist in weedy relatives (true, but there are no wild relatives of soy or corn in the US)."

He gives a nod to the fact that these problems are expected for any herbicide use:

"Individually, these environmental impacts appear, for the most part, of the same nature and in the same ballpark as the risks associated with other herbicide-based farming systems (exactly!!!),"

But there always has to be a but:

"but collectively they raise novel concerns over long-term, possibly serious impacts on biodiversity, soil and plant health, water quality, aquatic ecosystem integrity, and human and animal health (how, exactly?)."

Benbrook himself already established that glyphosate is less harmful than alternatives. So, how are we expected to believe that glyphosate tolerant crops are going to have all of these additional problems?

Now, we do have reason to be concerned about 2,4-D resistant crops or any other resistance to herbicides with an EIQ higher than glyphosate and we have reason to be concerned with the current and future return to more harmful herbicides as glyphosate resistant weeds develop - so let's talk about that and stop blaming everything on GE. These problems are herbicide problems, not GE problems. All GE did (so far) is temporarily push farmers toward using a less harmful herbicide.___

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2012-10-03 13:47:38 (3 comments, 0 reshares, 3 +1s)

I don't know why, but Benbrook uses pounds of active ingredient as his measure of pesticides. This makes no sense at all because we all know that not all pesticides are created equal. The environmental impact of a pound of 2,4-D is not the same as the environmental impact of a pound of glyphosate. His system is like saying that a pound of aspirin is the same as a pound of morphine. Obviously they have very different effects even though the weight is the same! 

I don't personally have the time right now, but it would be very interesting to see Benbrook's analysis redone with a different measure of pesticides. For example, researchers at Cornell developed a system called EIQ or environmental impact quotient (http://www.nysipm.cornell.edu/publications/eiq/). Now, it's not perfect - no system would be. But this system takes into account the following factors:

DT = dermal... more »

I don't know why, but Benbrook uses pounds of active ingredient as his measure of pesticides. This makes no sense at all because we all know that not all pesticides are created equal. The environmental impact of a pound of 2,4-D is not the same as the environmental impact of a pound of glyphosate. His system is like saying that a pound of aspirin is the same as a pound of morphine. Obviously they have very different effects even though the weight is the same! 

I don't personally have the time right now, but it would be very interesting to see Benbrook's analysis redone with a different measure of pesticides. For example, researchers at Cornell developed a system called EIQ or environmental impact quotient (http://www.nysipm.cornell.edu/publications/eiq/). Now, it's not perfect - no system would be. But this system takes into account the following factors:

DT = dermal toxicity, C = chronic toxicity, SY = systemicity, F = fish toxicity, L = leaching potential, R = surface loss potential, D = bird toxicity, S = soil half-life, Z = bee toxicity, B = beneficial arthropod toxicity, P = plant surface half-life

(see http://www.nysipm.cornell.edu/publications/eiq/equation.asp for details)

This gives us a good overall picture of how humans and wildlife are affected by any given pesticide. The EIQ can be calculated for any pesticide x dose x number of applications to give an overall value and then those values can be compared (see http://www.nysipm.cornell.edu/publications/eiq/field_use.asp for details). ___

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2012-10-03 13:46:00 (2 comments, 1 reshares, 3 +1s)

Benbrook's thoughts on resistant weeds has some incomplete conclusions, in my humble opinion.

He says that "Glyphosate resistant (GR) weeds were practically unknown before the introduction of RR crops in 1996." This is true (see graph below - glyphosate is a glycine), but how much was glyphosate used before 1996? I'm going to guess not much. Benbrook says it was in use for 20+ years, but how much and on what crops?

As use of a pesticide increases, we see an increase in resistance developing no matter whether we are talking about a herbicide and weeds, a fungicide and fungus, etc. With the advent of glyphosate resistant crops, we saw a huge increase in the use of glyphosate. Of course resistance developed. Benbrook says Monsanto reps claimed resistance wouldn't develop, but of course that's what they would say. It's silly to think resistance wouldn't... more »

Benbrook's thoughts on resistant weeds has some incomplete conclusions, in my humble opinion.

He says that "Glyphosate resistant (GR) weeds were practically unknown before the introduction of RR crops in 1996." This is true (see graph below - glyphosate is a glycine), but how much was glyphosate used before 1996? I'm going to guess not much. Benbrook says it was in use for 20+ years, but how much and on what crops?

As use of a pesticide increases, we see an increase in resistance developing no matter whether we are talking about a herbicide and weeds, a fungicide and fungus, etc. With the advent of glyphosate resistant crops, we saw a huge increase in the use of glyphosate. Of course resistance developed. Benbrook says Monsanto reps claimed resistance wouldn't develop, but of course that's what they would say. It's silly to think resistance wouldn't develop without careful rotations and other methods in integrated pest management.

I do completely agree with Benbrook that rotations of glyphosate resistant corn with glyphosate resistant soy and glyphosate resistant cotton is a terrible idea and completely against every resistance management strategy. I blame this problem on agricultural extension not getting the word out enough (actually, the problem is USDA and universities cutting extension funding, which is the fault of short sighted state and federal legislators). Farmers saw a system that worked great on their farm. It was easy, cheap, and increased yields. Farmers need someone besides seed reps to help them make pest management decisions, especially when it comes to newer technologies that may not have been around when they were in college.

As you can see in the graph below, weed resistance to various herbicides is far from a new thing! And glycine (glyphosate) resistance is only a tiny tiny fraction of all the resistance. The thing that makes glyphosate resistance in weeds such a tragedy is that glyphosate is such a great (relatively speaking) herbicide with much lower toxicity to wildlife and humans than alternatives.

Now, as farmers are struggling to deal with glyphosate resistant weeds, what they are really doing is going back to older, more toxic herbicides. This is a real shame. We will have lost a really important herbicide that should have been treated with care to avoid resistance. However, if we look at herbicide applications pre-glyphosate resistant crops and post-glyphosate resistant weeds, I hypothesize that we'd see very little change, with a valley in the middle of less herbicide use.

Yes, I said less herbicide use, even though Benbrook says there was more. See my next G+ post for an explanation.  ___

2012-10-03 13:15:25 (5 comments, 0 reshares, 1 +1s)

Reading through Benbrook's latest report on pesticides and found a confusing paragraph. What do you think: 

"In light of its generally favorable environmental and toxicological properties, especially compared to some of the herbicides displaced by glyphosate, the dramatic increase in glyphosate use has likely not markedly increased human health risks. Because glyphosate cannot be sprayed on most actively growing, non-GE plants, residues of glyphosate in food have been rare, at least until the expansion ~ 2006 in the number of late-season glyphosate applications on wheat and barley as a harvest aid and/or to control escaped weeds. Presumably as a result of such uses, 5.6% of 107 bread samples tested in 2010 by the U.K. Food Standards Agency contained glyphosate residues [9]. Three samples had 0.5 parts per million of glyphosate [9], a relatively high level compared to the other... more »

Reading through Benbrook's latest report on pesticides and found a confusing paragraph. What do you think: 

"In light of its generally favorable environmental and toxicological properties, especially compared to some of the herbicides displaced by glyphosate, the dramatic increase in glyphosate use has likely not markedly increased human health risks. Because glyphosate cannot be sprayed on most actively growing, non-GE plants, residues of glyphosate in food have been rare, at least until the expansion ~ 2006 in the number of late-season glyphosate applications on wheat and barley as a harvest aid and/or to control escaped weeds. Presumably as a result of such uses, 5.6% of 107 bread samples tested in 2010 by the U.K. Food Standards Agency contained glyphosate residues [9]. Three samples had 0.5 parts per million of glyphosate [9], a relatively high level compared to the other pesticides found in these bread samples."

His hypothesis is that GE increased pesticide use, especially for glyphosate, but there is no GE wheat or barley. Now, the increase of glyphosate on wheat and barley might not be a good thing (depending on what it is replacing), but we can't really blame that on GE.

Now, the 0.5 ppm on 3/107 samples may be cause for concern, since the threshold in the US for glyphosate in wheat grain is 0.01 ppm (http://www.mrldatabase.com) - but remember that the thresholds are created with at least 10x to 100x safety factors so we don't expect to see a concern at even 0.5 ppm unless all samples had residues at levels that high.  Just for some mental image comparison - 1 ppm is like 1 ounce of salt in a mountain of 62,500 pounds of sugar or 1 ounce of dye in 7,350 gallons of water (http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=stelprdc5084847).___

2012-09-03 20:45:38 (15 comments, 2 reshares, 6 +1s)

We've all seen claims thrown around that "one pound of beef takes x pounds of grain / y gallons of water". Unfortunately, each group making these statements are using different parameters which means that the numbers lack context and can't be compared. 

In having a nice twitter convo with Jesse ‏@cowgirljesse and Amy ‏@KyFarmersMatter an idea came to me - it may be crazy but I would like to see it through if possible.

What if we made an infographic based on a scale with the two sides balancing? On one side would be all the inputs needed to bring one beef cow to slaughter (grass, grain, hay, medicine, water, etc). On the other side would be all the products that can be made from one beef cow (pounds of meat, bones with note of what they can be used for, hide, etc). 

This sort of information, if we can find an accurate source, would provide clearinfor... more »

We've all seen claims thrown around that "one pound of beef takes x pounds of grain / y gallons of water". Unfortunately, each group making these statements are using different parameters which means that the numbers lack context and can't be compared. 

In having a nice twitter convo with Jesse ‏@cowgirljesse and Amy ‏@KyFarmersMatter an idea came to me - it may be crazy but I would like to see it through if possible.

What if we made an infographic based on a scale with the two sides balancing? On one side would be all the inputs needed to bring one beef cow to slaughter (grass, grain, hay, medicine, water, etc). On the other side would be all the products that can be made from one beef cow (pounds of meat, bones with note of what they can be used for, hide, etc). 

This sort of information, if we can find an accurate source, would provide clear information about what goes into a cow and what products can be made from a cow. Bringing it down to a singular cow makes it easier to understand than huge aggregate numbers or abstract concepts.

Oh, and I just realized we could have different infographics for different systems - grass fed vs conventional, US vs other countries.

Does anyone know of a good source of info for this? Are there any ranchers or cattle producers out there willing to provide estimates for their cattle? I just don't know enough about cattle to even do a good job researching this!___

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2012-08-22 01:32:16 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 1 +1s)

Would you like to see young residents and the elderly interact more in a neighborhood?

My friend has started this drive to get a program started in her neighborhood.  She needs 500 votes and it will be completely paid for by PNC Bank. The project is pretty modest but the results could be immense in this neighborhood.

Let's see what Google+ can do. Please vote and/or share this if you want to help. Only takes a minute or two. 

http://www.pncneighborhoodwishlist.com/preview.aspx?projectID=94

Would you like to see young residents and the elderly interact more in a neighborhood?

My friend has started this drive to get a program started in her neighborhood.  She needs 500 votes and it will be completely paid for by PNC Bank. The project is pretty modest but the results could be immense in this neighborhood.

Let's see what Google+ can do. Please vote and/or share this if you want to help. Only takes a minute or two. 

http://www.pncneighborhoodwishlist.com/preview.aspx?projectID=94___

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2012-08-22 01:27:35 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 1 +1s)

Too exhausted to blog after writing all day for work and bored with video games, I've been on a huge reading kick lately. Thank goodness for e-books from the local library.

I just finished Raising Stony Mayhall and wanted to encourage others to read it. Zombie stories are all too typical but this one is an entirely fresh take on the undead. I can't say too much without spoiling it - but will emphatically say it is worth a read. Although, the zombie nightmare I had when I was about halfway through wasn't so great. Now I'm off to non-fiction and less scary things for a while :)

Too exhausted to blog after writing all day for work and bored with video games, I've been on a huge reading kick lately. Thank goodness for e-books from the local library.

I just finished Raising Stony Mayhall and wanted to encourage others to read it. Zombie stories are all too typical but this one is an entirely fresh take on the undead. I can't say too much without spoiling it - but will emphatically say it is worth a read. Although, the zombie nightmare I had when I was about halfway through wasn't so great. Now I'm off to non-fiction and less scary things for a while :)___

2012-08-21 00:58:58 (15 comments, 2 reshares, 6 +1s)

I'm open to other ideas, but I see GMO labeling as the same thing as vegetarian labeling (I'm vegetarian and while I'm not religious about it, I do really prefer to avoid animal byproducts). 

On the one hand, we have voluntary negative labels "GMO free" ("organic" also means made without GMOs) and "Vegetarian" or "Vegan". That goes hand in hand with voluntary labels of "contains GMO"  (such as: "engineered to contain more omega3s") or "contains animal products" (such as: "proudly made with American beef"). It's not that there is anything different health-wise about GMOs or animal products, but for various reasons, some people want to avoid them. Voluntary labeling meets that demand and provides choice.

We have existing regulations to ensure these sorts of labels are truthful, and a legals... more »

I'm open to other ideas, but I see GMO labeling as the same thing as vegetarian labeling (I'm vegetarian and while I'm not religious about it, I do really prefer to avoid animal byproducts). 

On the one hand, we have voluntary negative labels "GMO free" ("organic" also means made without GMOs) and "Vegetarian" or "Vegan". That goes hand in hand with voluntary labels of "contains GMO"  (such as: "engineered to contain more omega3s") or "contains animal products" (such as: "proudly made with American beef"). It's not that there is anything different health-wise about GMOs or animal products, but for various reasons, some people want to avoid them. Voluntary labeling meets that demand and provides choice.

We have existing regulations to ensure these sorts of labels are truthful, and a legal system in which these labels can be challenged if fraud is suspected. We also have 3rd party verification such as the Non-GMO Project company which sells the right to use their label on products that meet their specifications.

It is unfortunate that some voluntary labels such as "natural" or "cage free" aren't regulated, but the solution there is to lobby for better regulation, not mandatory labels.

On the other hand, we have a call for mandatory labels of GMOs, which would result in companies adding "may contain GMOs" to avoid a lawsuit of the sort that the California proposition leaves everyone open to. 

As a vegetarian, a "may contain animal byproducts" is totally useless. With this label, I still have to do the same checking of ingredients, calling the company, etc to see if it has the sorts of ingredients I want to avoid. Or I can just write off anything that isn't voluntarily labeled "vegetarian". If I wanted to avoid GMOs, I'd be in the same boat - having to choose only voluntarily labeled "GMO free" or "organic certified", or I'd have to do the homework to see if a "may contain GMOs" product actually contained them.

In the case of mandatory labels, the number of products that would become available to those wanting to avoid GMOs (or animal products) is close to zero. Some small number of companies would choose to increase their prices enough to cover any changes in formulation needed to meet the absence of the mandatory label, but they'd likely then choose to add the voluntary "GMO free" or "vegetarian" label to be sure their target customers found their products. The mandatory labels don't add any additional choices for consumers.

Of course, here is where the similarity ends. If our hypothetical "may contain animal products" was to be made mandatory, most people wouldn't care (unless someone manages to stir up an ew gross campaign as with cochineal or LFTB). There'd be no rush to produce animal-free products, no increase in food cost as producers moved from cheaper ingredients to more expensive ones. Most of all, there isn't any research into more sustainable or otherwise beneficial alternatives that would be ended.

If "may contain GMOs" becomes mandatory, especially with the misinformation campaigns by NGOs that are happily perpetuated by the media, we could have a major shift in what crops are grown. This might not be all bad - one could certainly argue that Roundup Ready and Bt have been overused (and this is something I have argued many times before) - but in addition to lower yields, we'd also see a decrease in funding for research. All of the virus resistance, improved nutrition, stress tolerance, etc would be left to desiccate in the back of a lab freezer, even more than they are currently. You may say this is a slippery slope, but we've already seen what mandatory labels and anti-biotech sentiment has done in Europe. There's barely any research into new traits, and any existing or new research is threatened with destruction by vandals.

In short, a mandatory GMO label provides no additional information, may increase food prices (depending on who you ask - I'm not an economist), and has the strong potential of preventing beneficial traits from being developed. What's the point, again? I'm all for more information to consumers, but this does not seem to accomplish that goal.

Instead of mandatory labels that don't help anyone, why not call for more voluntary labeling or a better system of voluntary labeling? We have single source coffee and chocolate - why not single source canola oil or popcorn? Or if not single source, why not more cooperatives of farmers that use similar methods so they can provide more detailed information to consumers? Leave those who don't care to their Hershey's bars and Kellogg's corn flakes, while those who do care can choose to pay a little extra for items that meet their desires.

There's plenty of room in the market for all of us. And yes, before anyone mentions it - there are potential concerns with drift of not just pollen but pesticides and pests too, but the solution for that isn't to keep farmers from using or not using the tools they want to use, the solution is to ensure there are resources (such as ag extension) for neighboring farmers of all types so they can each do due diligence in keeping their things on their property and in keeping things off their property that they don't want there. We have the technology.___

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2012-08-19 23:53:24 (33 comments, 1 reshares, 5 +1s)

Reason why I don't buy organic #156. 

At the Bethesda Farmers' market this morning, I chose a stand that was selling sweet corn. It was all organic, which I normally don't buy, but the person I was with said that this stand had the best stuff. Their corn was more expensive - $4.50 vs $3 for 6 - but I didn't realize that till after I'd paid. The leaves were nice and green so I was looking forward to some yummy sweet corn. Imagine my surprise when I came home and found this. 

One ear was lovely. One had very poor tip fill. Two had insect damage at the top (one was an earworm and one was a rootworm). Two were badly damaged by insects and had various fungi growing all over the ear, so I threw them away. I do not take risks with aflatoxin, thank you very much. So, for $4.50 I got less than 4 ears of corn.

It tasted ok, but sadly it wasn't even that tastyo... more »

Reason why I don't buy organic #156. 

At the Bethesda Farmers' market this morning, I chose a stand that was selling sweet corn. It was all organic, which I normally don't buy, but the person I was with said that this stand had the best stuff. Their corn was more expensive - $4.50 vs $3 for 6 - but I didn't realize that till after I'd paid. The leaves were nice and green so I was looking forward to some yummy sweet corn. Imagine my surprise when I came home and found this. 

One ear was lovely. One had very poor tip fill. Two had insect damage at the top (one was an earworm and one was a rootworm). Two were badly damaged by insects and had various fungi growing all over the ear, so I threw them away. I do not take risks with aflatoxin, thank you very much. So, for $4.50 I got less than 4 ears of corn.

It tasted ok, but sadly it wasn't even that tasty of a variety. What a waste. ___

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2012-07-23 20:28:07 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 1 +1s)

Nicely written, but I don't know what to do about it. I know that science isn't the best way to combat fear but without a basis in science, where are we? Just marketing? Not sure.

___Nicely written, but I don't know what to do about it. I know that science isn't the best way to combat fear but without a basis in science, where are we? Just marketing? Not sure.

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2012-07-13 18:04:49 (1 comments, 2 reshares, 1 +1s)

Beginner tips for Google+ ...I am still a beginner so this is much appreciated :)

Beginner Tip - Using the plus & its implications.

I've been using Google+ for a few days and I think it's a game-changer for talented professionals for a handful of reasons. One of the most important of which is the opportunity for one little "@" or "+" character to pull really talented people into real conversations that have a valuable outcome. If you do nothing else with Google+, definitely learn to WISELY use this ONE feature. Basically, type a "+" in front of the name of someone using Google+ to automatically link them to your post and also let your readers find them too.

The ease-of-use, direct connection to experts & talent on a given topic/task, in an ad-hoc & casual environment and the mix of real-time but in-depth information that you can share and others re-share and dissect is definitely a different experience. Plus the network-effects of what will ensue over time are mind-blowing.

I can already see in my mind that talented people will connect to other very talented people that they would otherwise never have crossed-paths with. Within just a couple of days I can think of useful connections between the most talented people I personally know in all kinds of fields and a few people I just found that are of the same or better calibre... Over time interactions sparked that way will create profound consequences for collaboration in the real-world, if all goes well.

There are plenty of smart/talented people out there but generally speaking they are locked-in to their niche and 'undiscoverable'. There's precious few opportunities for cross-over in the real-world. The unprecedented ability for any one of us to find or connect to others on a topic that is mutually beneficial, across international barriers and engage in conversation about it in real-time or close to it, starting out as total strangers but evolving into collaborators is going to make big changes happen.

You should be using Google+ too. I think you'll find lots of interesting things happening here if you take the time for a couple of days to look for people that have a synergy with what you're passionate about. Then go explore a little outside of your usual impulses. You'll likely find a handful of pleasant surprises.

First steps that I would advise, to get you started...
You should:

a) Post the best 200x200 pixel picture of your face that you've got. It's basically the first thing people see about you and not having a memorable picture really isn't helping you out much. Having no picture is a sure-fire way for people to cast doubt on what you say because they don't have a clue who you are. You need a good quality picture to make a decent first impression, people work that way in the real-world. If you want more than one picture so people can cycle through them by clicking, go to your own photos tab and add more to your 'profile photos' album.

b) Keep in mind that although you can use the service for 'private' sharing within circles, the real valuable stuff will come from new connections made in the 'public' space. Also, once you share something you no longer control how other people will use it and propagate it. So share valuable stuff, keep private details out (if you want privacy) and try to keep a positive tone without wasting people's time. If you don't have positive stuff to advance the conversation, just listen, that's always OK.

c) Keep in mind that the best way to learn is by doing things yourself. Beginner tips are popping up all over the place but a decent place to start are the "beginner tips" you see on this stream by +Trey Ratcliff they helped me out with details I didn't know...
https://plus.google.com/105237212888595777019/posts/97N5Fppfin2
https://plus.google.com/105237212888595777019/posts/Ghx2PjKD5uW
https://plus.google.com/105237212888595777019/posts/PHfkQc7qZ7N
https://plus.google.com/105237212888595777019/posts/d7ZiGrkA9pv

+Colby Brown has a link leading to a detailed in-depth guide to Google Plus, including a cheat-sheet to help you start out...
https://plus.google.com/113455290791279442483/posts/DvooQ2JvpNC

The three most useful tips for me, as beginner?
1.- Use the plus sign with a name to connect to other relevant Google+ members within a conversation, IF you have something valuable FOR THEM.
2.- Click on the date of a post to find the 'permanent link' that you can e-mail and share directly so that you grant credit where credit is due and get readers directly to the info they are looking for. Of course, share posts if you like them within Google+. If you want comments to appear in the original post you need to comment in the original, not the stream that shared it.
3.- Hover over people's names, visit their pages, see their 'About' section in their profiles, you might find useful people to connect-to further down the line, even if you have to go through 10 that are not up-your-alley in the process.

I leave you with this so you can comment below and make your voice heard...
Question:
What do YOU think about talent finding talent on Google+, will that create collaboration that makes its way into the real-world? Comment below and feel free to share this post if you like it.
=)



----------
https://plus.google.com/s/110811729614009320896_best
Click the Google+ search link above to browse through a collection of my "BEST" posts. =)___Beginner tips for Google+ ...I am still a beginner so this is much appreciated :)

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2012-07-13 13:54:34 (12 comments, 4 reshares, 5 +1s)

"Previously isolated gene pools from some of the 25 distinctly different species of apples found throughout the world are now brought in contact with each other and gene transfer among apple species occurs. Agriculturalists are charmed. Naturalists are alarmed." 

In what year did this happen? 2000? 1990? Nope! 8000 BC :D Some things never change. Lovely history of apples from the Midwest Apple Improvement Association: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/maia/history.html 

Wondering what ancient apples look like? Check out a rose bush after the petals have dried. Apples are the same part of the plant as the rose hips. You can see the resemblance in the image below of crab apples. Yes, apples and roses are related. They're both members of the family Rosaceae.

Now, think about the genetic and physiological changes that had to happen, all driven by humaninte... more »

"Previously isolated gene pools from some of the 25 distinctly different species of apples found throughout the world are now brought in contact with each other and gene transfer among apple species occurs. Agriculturalists are charmed. Naturalists are alarmed." 

In what year did this happen? 2000? 1990? Nope! 8000 BC :D Some things never change. Lovely history of apples from the Midwest Apple Improvement Association: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/maia/history.html 

Wondering what ancient apples look like? Check out a rose bush after the petals have dried. Apples are the same part of the plant as the rose hips. You can see the resemblance in the image below of crab apples. Yes, apples and roses are related. They're both members of the family Rosaceae.

Now, think about the genetic and physiological changes that had to happen, all driven by human intervention, to turn rose hips/crab apples into today's apples. How does that stack up to the genetic and physiological changes made by using a common soil bacterial to carry in a bit of apple DNA that will fold on itself and use the plant's natural mechanisms to turn off the genes that produce the enzymes that turn antioxidants in apples to a brown pigment? Hint: One has a LOT more changes than the other.___

2012-07-13 13:17:07 (3 comments, 0 reshares, 1 +1s)

Trying to figure out how to start a shared circle for discussion of how to conduct targeted science communication for thought leaders such as Michel Pollan and Mark Bittman.

Trying to figure out how to start a shared circle for discussion of how to conduct targeted science communication for thought leaders such as Michel Pollan and Mark Bittman.___

2012-06-22 15:37:10 (18 comments, 3 reshares, 13 +1s)

#sciencegirlthing  is pretty horrible, but I wanted to offer an anecdote as a caution against assuming it's all bad.

After the USA Science and Engineering Festival (Washington DC in April), I got on the metro and found myself sitting across from a little girl age 7 or so with her dad. Right before the doors close, in walks a Science Cheerleader. The girl's face lit up with a huge smile.

For about a 10 minute metro ride, the two discussed the science experiments that they had conducted at the festival, the cheerleader talked about her day job as a scientist, the girl talked about how she liked doing science at school... it was just so awesome how excited the girl was about science. I don't think cheerleading ever came up, but it was an effective icebreaker.

Would I have been as compelling a role model to the girl, in my plain jeans and top? Maybe. But thati... more »

#sciencegirlthing  is pretty horrible, but I wanted to offer an anecdote as a caution against assuming it's all bad.

After the USA Science and Engineering Festival (Washington DC in April), I got on the metro and found myself sitting across from a little girl age 7 or so with her dad. Right before the doors close, in walks a Science Cheerleader. The girl's face lit up with a huge smile.

For about a 10 minute metro ride, the two discussed the science experiments that they had conducted at the festival, the cheerleader talked about her day job as a scientist, the girl talked about how she liked doing science at school... it was just so awesome how excited the girl was about science. I don't think cheerleading ever came up, but it was an effective icebreaker.

Would I have been as compelling a role model to the girl, in my plain jeans and top? Maybe. But that interaction with the cheerleader is something that the girl will never ever forget and well, let's face it, I need more than a few minutes on the metro to make an impression like that. I never thought I'd say it, but after my experience at the Festival, I think Science Cheerleaders are doing a pretty good job.

It definitely seems like efforts to feminize science can often go overboard but if done right they can have a huge impact. How could #sciencegirlthing  be improved to keep that message that women can be scientists, that scientists aren't all nerdy or boring, etc but to lose that offensive bubblegum sexualization?___

2012-06-20 22:15:45 (5 comments, 1 reshares, 7 +1s)

A question from Twitter: do you buy organic?
Short answer: no. But as with everything with me, it's complicated/nuanced.

I don't have a problem with organic per se. Farmers seeking out methods that are better for the environment and choosing to sacrifice a little yield in order to grow better tasting varieties is pretty fabulous, and I'm glad we have a label that allows consumers to seek that out. Unfortunately, what happens in practice doesn't match that fantasy. Are industrial organic farms actually better for the environment, for farm workers, for consumers? Maybe in some cases, and maybe not in others. Then we have the issues of yield to deal with - do we really want to use more land to produce less food, even if it is better food? Organic encourages an inflexible system that arbitrarily avoids synthetic inputs even when we know the synthetic is safer than or at leaste... more »

A question from Twitter: do you buy organic?
Short answer: no. But as with everything with me, it's complicated/nuanced.

I don't have a problem with organic per se. Farmers seeking out methods that are better for the environment and choosing to sacrifice a little yield in order to grow better tasting varieties is pretty fabulous, and I'm glad we have a label that allows consumers to seek that out. Unfortunately, what happens in practice doesn't match that fantasy. Are industrial organic farms actually better for the environment, for farm workers, for consumers? Maybe in some cases, and maybe not in others. Then we have the issues of yield to deal with - do we really want to use more land to produce less food, even if it is better food? Organic encourages an inflexible system that arbitrarily avoids synthetic inputs even when we know the synthetic is safer than or at least equivalent to the naturally sourced alternatives. And of course there's the arbitrary ban of biotechnology and irradiation. I don't want to support that system. I'd much rather seek out farmers that use a combination of methods, whatever allows them to balance their ability to produce the best food with the least impact. Happily, I can often find many farmers like this at farmers' markets. Lastly, I don't support fearmongering. "Chemical free"? you've lost a customer. Screeds against biotech on your website? no thanks. Give money to an anti science organization? Forget it.___

2012-06-19 18:59:08 (8 comments, 1 reshares, 4 +1s)

Dear GMO labeling proponents,
Everyone would be a lot more amenable to mandatory GMO labeling if you'd focus on the science and stop calling anyone who disagrees with you a shill. Avoiding making things up would be nice too. 
Love,
One genetic engineer

Dear GMO labeling proponents,
Everyone would be a lot more amenable to mandatory GMO labeling if you'd focus on the science and stop calling anyone who disagrees with you a shill. Avoiding making things up would be nice too. 
Love,
One genetic engineer___

2012-06-13 19:14:15 (1 comments, 3 reshares, 4 +1s)

Regarding biotechnology, the view of so many (too many) people seems to go like this*:

  There isn't enough research! I know this because I looked on random homeopathic website x and on mainstream news y! I want to run around and talk about how bad GMOs are but I can't be bothered to look at the primary literature or to talk to a scientist or farmer unless they already share my POV!

  Oh, all that research you just showed me? It's all compromised because it's industry funded. Oh, it's not all industry funded? Well, it's compromised because industry funded a building two blocks away from where that one scientist worked. And the rest is compromised because all the scientists want to get a job with Monsanto someday so they all make things up to satisfy their future corporate masters.

  Anyway, we need long term studies! Oh, those multi generationstu... more »

Regarding biotechnology, the view of so many (too many) people seems to go like this*:

  There isn't enough research! I know this because I looked on random homeopathic website x and on mainstream news y! I want to run around and talk about how bad GMOs are but I can't be bothered to look at the primary literature or to talk to a scientist or farmer unless they already share my POV!

  Oh, all that research you just showed me? It's all compromised because it's industry funded. Oh, it's not all industry funded? Well, it's compromised because industry funded a building two blocks away from where that one scientist worked. And the rest is compromised because all the scientists want to get a job with Monsanto someday so they all make things up to satisfy their future corporate masters.

  Anyway, we need long term studies! Oh, those multi generation studies you showed me? Those aren't enough! We need 100 years of testing every single factor possible, even things we can't think of yet! Like what happens when a rain droplet hits the GMO leaf and what happens when an aphid that doesn't even eat that plant species is forced to eat it and...

  Who needs biotechnology anyway? Organic is a silver bullet and anyone who tells you otherwise works for Monsanto! Farmers shouldn't be allowed to use biotech, I know better than they do.

And so it goes, on and on, circling back on itself in various iterations, with no acknowledgement of the science that has been done, no concrete examples of what research would be useful, and zero logical consistencies. Biotech has a magical property that make some otherwise intelligent people totally incapable of saying anything that makes sense about it. Seriously, over the past week or so I have seen the exact same arguments from 5 different people that do not know each other. Some have been more articulate than others, but that does not change the underlying theory. 

They call for such incredible amounts of research on this one subject area but are perfectly happy eating hybrids and using cell phones and taking medicine, somehow without calls for additional research, even though we know they all have unintended consequences. For example, hybrids have certainly contributed to an increase in monoculture plantings, cell phones and other electronics contain toxins that leach into the environment when improperly discarded, and, well, various medications have all sorts of unintended consequences, not the least of which is that we have somewhat scary amounts of pharmaceuticals in our water supply that can't be filtered out with typical methods. But these things we can ignore, because biotechnology is the apocalypse. 

Aaaaahhhhhh! Ok, sorry, back to your regularly scheduled meme pictures. I just had to get that out of my system.

*Yes, somewhat exaggerated, but barely.___

2012-06-12 13:14:57 (7 comments, 0 reshares, 2 +1s)

This post is in response to @permagriculture's question" "In your view has any genetic material from #GM Soya found it's way into organic crops?"

The heirloom tomato farmer must keep unwanted pollen from non-heirloom tomatoes from his flowers if he wants to collect the seed for next year. The sweet corn farmer must keep  unwanted pollen from field corn from her silks if she wants her corn to remain sweet. The mandarin orange farmer must keep all pollen away from his flowers if he wants to get the highest price for seedless fruit. Gene flow is a potential problem for any farmer with a specialty crop.

The problem of gene flow and pollen "contamination" is an old problem that exists regardless of genetic engineering. Yes, I am sure there has been some pollen from GM soy that has pollinated organic soy, although without seeing any evidence to theco... more »

This post is in response to @permagriculture's question" "In your view has any genetic material from #GM Soya found it's way into organic crops?"

The heirloom tomato farmer must keep unwanted pollen from non-heirloom tomatoes from his flowers if he wants to collect the seed for next year. The sweet corn farmer must keep  unwanted pollen from field corn from her silks if she wants her corn to remain sweet. The mandarin orange farmer must keep all pollen away from his flowers if he wants to get the highest price for seedless fruit. Gene flow is a potential problem for any farmer with a specialty crop.

The problem of gene flow and pollen "contamination" is an old problem that exists regardless of genetic engineering. Yes, I am sure there has been some pollen from GM soy that has pollinated organic soy, although without seeing any evidence to the contrary I would say such pollination would be low if organic farmers are using the required distances from conventional fields. I'm also sure that organic pollen has "contaminated" GM and non-organic, and while that won't be a problem in most cases, there's been some research showing that weeds and insects move from organic farms onto conventional farms, which any conventional farmer would say is a problem. In addition, there are some upcoming GM traits where pollen from non-GM could ruin them, such as RNAi allergen free peanuts. 

I personally believe that all farmers need to be cognizant of what their effect on neighboring farms will be, and work with their neighbors to find solutions. Not only is there legal precedent for controlling any of your property that leaves your land, there is common courtesy and the idea of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you".

Coexistence among different types of farmers is a complex subject area. I've written about this idea in two posts but I don't think I've even scratched the surface. This is a issue that needs discussion with compassion and openmindedness. While different farmers use different methods, all are in the business in producing food the best way they know how, and just trying to make a living. I think there is a lot of common ground if we approach the situation carefully.I don't think it's useful to throw blame around or demonize anyone, though.

I hope you'll consider reading these posts. If you have any thoughts on coexistence, I'd love to hear them. 

Co-existence isn’t easy  http://www.biofortified.org/2010/12/co-existence-isnt-easy/
Coexistence takes conversation http://www.biofortified.org/2011/01/coexistence-takes-conversation/___

2012-06-11 16:10:13 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 3 +1s)

Studies show farm workers are at high risk for pesticide-related health problems. You't think people would campaign for increased personal protective equipment (PPE) and education for workers. Instead, they winge about trace residues on produce that are below toxic levels by a factor of 10 to 100. To be honest, I think it is narrow minded and selfish to bring up a faux problem and ignore the real problem.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18033725
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21462024

Studies show farm workers are at high risk for pesticide-related health problems. You't think people would campaign for increased personal protective equipment (PPE) and education for workers. Instead, they winge about trace residues on produce that are below toxic levels by a factor of 10 to 100. To be honest, I think it is narrow minded and selfish to bring up a faux problem and ignore the real problem.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18033725
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21462024___

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2012-06-08 21:07:13 (0 comments, 3 reshares, 2 +1s)

Attention everyone - if you support publicly funded research and think a plant scientist should be allowed to continue a 30 year research project on fungus resistant olive trees, please check out the post below and sign the petition.

Or, if you're in a hurry, just sign the petition - http://www.biofortified.org/site-map/dontdestroyresearch-italy/

Thank you for taking a moment to support science! 

Attention everyone - if you support publicly funded research and think a plant scientist should be allowed to continue a 30 year research project on fungus resistant olive trees, please check out the post below and sign the petition.

Or, if you're in a hurry, just sign the petition - http://www.biofortified.org/site-map/dontdestroyresearch-italy/

Thank you for taking a moment to support science! ___

2012-06-07 16:15:12 (28 comments, 1 reshares, 3 +1s)

NIH's definition of 'GMO' is.... well, interesting. Check out the last clause.

"Genetically modified organisms are those in which mutations have been induced by chemicals, irradiation, transposons or transgenesis (e.g., knockouts and injection of DNA into blastocysts) or those in which spontaneous mutations have occurred. "

From the NIH Policy for Sharing Model Organisms.

NIH's definition of 'GMO' is.... well, interesting. Check out the last clause.

"Genetically modified organisms are those in which mutations have been induced by chemicals, irradiation, transposons or transgenesis (e.g., knockouts and injection of DNA into blastocysts) or those in which spontaneous mutations have occurred. "

From the NIH Policy for Sharing Model Organisms.___

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2012-06-01 13:19:19 (5 comments, 0 reshares, 1 +1s)

Rebecca Nisbet wrote a thought provoking post about the protest at Rothamsted. I meant to write a short comment but this came out:

It definitely does seem that the real issue at the root of the "GMO debate" is corporate control of the food supply. The subject is so complex that people definitely use the science as a scapegoat. 

I too feel a bit apprehensive about things for the public good being in the hands of corporations. Schools, police, and fire fighting are all public organizations for the public good. In a lot of ways, I think medicine should be the same way. 

Food is a lot more complicated. On the one hand, food is a necessary public good. We all need to eat to live - surely a more basic need than even safety, fire control, or education. However, food is so much more than sustenance. Food is also something to be bought and sold just like any other goods... more »

Rebecca Nisbet wrote a thought provoking post about the protest at Rothamsted. I meant to write a short comment but this came out:

It definitely does seem that the real issue at the root of the "GMO debate" is corporate control of the food supply. The subject is so complex that people definitely use the science as a scapegoat. 

I too feel a bit apprehensive about things for the public good being in the hands of corporations. Schools, police, and fire fighting are all public organizations for the public good. In a lot of ways, I think medicine should be the same way. 

Food is a lot more complicated. On the one hand, food is a necessary public good. We all need to eat to live - surely a more basic need than even safety, fire control, or education. However, food is so much more than sustenance. Food is also something to be bought and sold just like any other good such as clothes or books. How can we separate out the public good aspect and the commercial aspect? I don't know if we can.

Perhaps we can better compare food to energy. Energy has a public and a private aspect too. Government funds are used for research and successful projects are handed over (with varying degrees of control) to private entities to develop into a useful product. Another example that might apply is moon-landing-era NASA, where private and public entities worked together in research and development. Is it the government's job to be a seed company? Or for that matter, is it the government's job to do ag research at all? I personally think we need that independent research both in biotech traits and other areas,  but that the government shouldn't spend money on developing a product for sale.

All that said, who is the "enemy" here? Is it the scientist who develops new traits (through GM or other methods)? Or the company that grows the seed to sell to farmers? Is it the farmers, the middlemen that buy the crops to sell to processors, the processors, the packagers, the marketers, or the grocery stores? 

I don't really understand the focus on the start of the chain here. Seed is not the horse, it's the cart being pulled around where ever consumer demand says it should go. If we need lots of cheap feed to produce lots of cheap meat, then we get high yielding commodity seed and animal genetics that produce huge and relatively taste-less muscles in a system with few players and little diversity. It's hard, very hard, to turn the cart around, but it can be done if people's demand changes. If people want interesting, flavorful, nutrition-packed fruits, vegetables, and animal products, then that need will be filled. Forward thinking people can help move it along by producing these products and getting people interested (which is exactly what we see happening in nice markets across the world). The current system will have to either adapt or go extinct - but just like evolution it doesn't happen overnight!

All of that said, I'm assuming that we need to work within the current system. If people just want to overthrow the system, I give up. I'm a scientist, not a revolutionary, and I need to get back to work.___

2012-05-31 17:49:07 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 1 +1s)

Gorgeous art and solid science!

Suddenly illustrated

For her senior thesis communication designer Julia Gordon (at Washington University in St. Louis) hauled off and richly illustrated the GMO chapter from my book, Whole Earth Discipline. One bonus is that her diagrams bring the data from my 2009 book up to 2012.

If you peruse her version, she might appreciate your comment here. On the link below, look for the project on the top left of her home page, titled “Green Genes.“___Gorgeous art and solid science!

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2012-05-30 19:55:36 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 2 +1s)

Need some space to deconstruct this tweet: "NIH links say health risk with Bt corn. Monsanto says no. Then risk with all GMOs."

I don't know if NIH (or any of the 27 institutes and centers) has any statements on Bt the protein. I tried a few quick searches, and came up with a ton of information on BT (blood transfusions) and a lot of links to papers about Bt hosted on NCBI (which is a database of literature that does not judge accuracy of the content). Maybe there is something somewhere that NIH has said on the matter.

Regardless, we need to deconstruct the word risk. Water carries some health risk. It may be contaminated with pathogens or some harmful chemicals. I may not drink enough or drink too much. That doesn't mean water is harmful. When a risk is identified, it can often be mitigated, and in any case always needs to be put into context with other risks.... more »

Need some space to deconstruct this tweet: "NIH links say health risk with Bt corn. Monsanto says no. Then risk with all GMOs."

I don't know if NIH (or any of the 27 institutes and centers) has any statements on Bt the protein. I tried a few quick searches, and came up with a ton of information on BT (blood transfusions) and a lot of links to papers about Bt hosted on NCBI (which is a database of literature that does not judge accuracy of the content). Maybe there is something somewhere that NIH has said on the matter.

Regardless, we need to deconstruct the word risk. Water carries some health risk. It may be contaminated with pathogens or some harmful chemicals. I may not drink enough or drink too much. That doesn't mean water is harmful. When a risk is identified, it can often be mitigated, and in any case always needs to be put into context with other risks.

Monsanto of course says their products carry limited risk. That is not interesting. What is interesting is the pile of literature that says Bt has limited risk. I just did a quick review of the Bt protein, which is linked below.

Even if it was shown that Bt had specific health risks, that doesn't mean that all GMOs have the same risk. Aphid resistance doesn't express the same protein as Bt, for example, so any risk associated with Bt protein won't apply to plants expressing aphid alarm pheromone.

I know it would be so much easier if we could just lump it all together and call it a day, but reality is so much more complex.___

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2012-05-30 14:53:08 (18 comments, 1 reshares, 2 +1s)

As we've seen so clearly with the recent "Take the Flour Back" situation in England, rational discussion about agriculture is almost impossible. How has it gotten so bad? Here's how I see it:

Step 1) Organic and/or anti biotech advocacy organizations knowingly or unknowingly spread serious misinformation about biotechnology, pesticides, and non-organic agriculture in general. I don't want to be cynical, but I can't help but wonder how much of the misinformation is knowingly spread because the more fear they spread, the more supporters and donations the advocacy groups get, and the more sales the organic and "natural" products companies get, and the companies sponsor the advocacy groups in a nice little circle.

Step 2) Journalists and activists grab onto that misinformation and perpetuate it in written and spoken form, occasionally adding additional... more »

As we've seen so clearly with the recent "Take the Flour Back" situation in England, rational discussion about agriculture is almost impossible. How has it gotten so bad? Here's how I see it:

Step 1) Organic and/or anti biotech advocacy organizations knowingly or unknowingly spread serious misinformation about biotechnology, pesticides, and non-organic agriculture in general. I don't want to be cynical, but I can't help but wonder how much of the misinformation is knowingly spread because the more fear they spread, the more supporters and donations the advocacy groups get, and the more sales the organic and "natural" products companies get, and the companies sponsor the advocacy groups in a nice little circle.

Step 2) Journalists and activists grab onto that misinformation and perpetuate it in written and spoken form, occasionally adding additional misinformation in a twisted game of telephone.

Step 3) Scientists (and some science communicators, and science advocates) are left trying to mop up the mess of misinformation, with little time or energy remaining to discuss real problems and concerns with biotechnology, pesticides, and non-organic agriculture in general.

Step 4) Activists label anyone who tries to find sources for claims as a shill, regardless of whether the person has any connection to industry whatsoever. Academic and government employees are assumed to be corrupt.

All of this results in the same misinformation being promoted again and again, with any challenge ignored. Where do we go from here? How can discussion of the science behind agriculture become more useful, with rational agents discussing real concerns instead of rechewing the same bad information?

Below is a link to just one example of an anti biotech organization that spreads misinformation (in this case, the organization is a major supporter of a ban of biotech in Richmond, British Columbia). They conveniently put summaries of their misinformation all on one page for all to see. As is typical, we're given few references, and no information contrary to their ideology. I don't have time or energy to debunk each of these line by line, but the info is out there, readily available for anyone who wants to find it.

What I don't understand is the motivation behind all of this. When I feel strongly about something, when I worry that something is harmful to me, my family, people in general, or the environment, I do all the research I can. I want to make sure that I have good information on all sides of the issue, what the consequences would be both if the thing of concern started or if it ended. If I do see a problem, I want to help people understand the issues so they can make their own decisions. If these groups feel so strongly about things, then why don't they do good research, put out solid information, and let people decide?___

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2012-05-30 02:02:51 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 3 +1s)

There's a lot of worry out there about allergens potentially arising from biotechnology. The worry seems to be twofold: 1) that the "new" protein in the biotech crop itself will be an allergen, and 2) that the gene insertion process may somehow change the genetics of the crop to create new allergens.

1) Each "new" protein is very carefully checked in multiple ways. First, genes from known allergens are not used (there was an example where a gene from Brazil nut was used to boost protein balance in corn, but since it was found to be allergenic, the project was trashed). Even before transformation, the gene and the protein sequence are checked against a database of known all known allergens. The purified protein is tested for allergenicity in a variety of test tube and animal tests. Once transformed plants are grown, the whole food is tested for allergenicity and safety via... more »

There's a lot of worry out there about allergens potentially arising from biotechnology. The worry seems to be twofold: 1) that the "new" protein in the biotech crop itself will be an allergen, and 2) that the gene insertion process may somehow change the genetics of the crop to create new allergens.

1) Each "new" protein is very carefully checked in multiple ways. First, genes from known allergens are not used (there was an example where a gene from Brazil nut was used to boost protein balance in corn, but since it was found to be allergenic, the project was trashed). Even before transformation, the gene and the protein sequence are checked against a database of known all known allergens. The purified protein is tested for allergenicity in a variety of test tube and animal tests. Once transformed plants are grown, the whole food is tested for allergenicity and safety via test tube and animal tests too, by comparing the transgenic plant to it's non transgenic sisters.

2) The gene insertion process could cause some random mutations, but mutations are widespread. Natural transposons and other mobile elements move pieces of genes around almost randomly. Mutagens in the environment from sunlight to natural compounds in plants we eat cause a variety of mutations. DNA replication itself during cell division can result in a variety of genetic changes, from loss of an entire chromosome to swapping of material between chromosomes. These sorts of genetic changes can occur with or without biotechnology - there is no inherent risk from biotech. In fact, there are fewer unintended mutations caused by biotech than by some other plant breeding methods such as tissue culture.

Regardless, biotech plants are bred for generations to separate any random mutations caused by the biotech process from the actual gene of interest, so there's no risk of those random mutations in the final product anyway.

I hope that information is useful, but please don't take my word for it. The National Academies of Science created a really great book "Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods" where you can find all sorts of great info written in plain language.

A comparison of risks from biotech and other methods can be found here: http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10977&page=39

A discussion of food allergens in biotech vs non biotech foods can be found here: http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10977&page=114___

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2012-05-27 16:27:59 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 2 +1s)

I fully agree that there are many issues surrounding biotechnology that can't be addressed by science (industrialization, capitalism, monocultures, patents, and a number of other issues). Scientists should consider these as part of the broader landscape in which their research may eventually be released, and should address them in conversations. It is good that activists bring up these issues for public debate.

There are three problems with this, though.

1) Scientists working on biotechnology aren't lawyers or policy makers. They don't have the expertise and background information needed to really talk about these things. The best they can do is express their opinions on these subjects - and many do. This doesn't seem to be enough to satisfy activists, who usually aren't lawyers or policy makers either, who don't have the expertise or background to understand... more »

I fully agree that there are many issues surrounding biotechnology that can't be addressed by science (industrialization, capitalism, monocultures, patents, and a number of other issues). Scientists should consider these as part of the broader landscape in which their research may eventually be released, and should address them in conversations. It is good that activists bring up these issues for public debate.

There are three problems with this, though.

1) Scientists working on biotechnology aren't lawyers or policy makers. They don't have the expertise and background information needed to really talk about these things. The best they can do is express their opinions on these subjects - and many do. This doesn't seem to be enough to satisfy activists, who usually aren't lawyers or policy makers either, who don't have the expertise or background to understand the ramifications any particular suggestion. How can we have solid discussions about the social/economic/etc issues surrounding biotechnology when the two groups involved in the discussion have little knowledge in the area and little ability to change overarching structures of our society? I think we need to bring the discussion back down to a more manageable, more meaningful level. Let's talk about how a given technology (such as aphid repellent wheat) may be used in different ways, and how scientists and activists can help steer technology so it is used in ways that are generally acceptable to both sides.

2) Activists hoping to change (or destroy) biotechnology aren't scientists. As I mentioned previously, there are many issues surrounding biotechnology that aren't really problems with the science at all. Activists could research these issues, develop solid stances, and discuss those issues with scientists and policy makers, but most don't. Instead, they find one paper or news article that "proves GMOs are dangerous", create a story around that either misinformation or deliberate lies, and keep repeating that misinformation no matter what. Scientists are forced on the defensive, having to keep debunking the misinformation, so they don't have time or energy left to discuss all of the other issues. Everyone, including scientists and activists need to be honest and careful about their words. For useful discussion to happen, scientists can not say things like "zero risk" and activists can not keep spreading the misinformation. We need to focus on the reality before us and not cloud the issues with bad information and smear tactics.

3) There's no middle ground. In the US, we've had a long history of compromise in our two party system. Each party has a general stance on any given issue but has been willing to come together to find solutions to problems that at least somewhat satisfy both parties. Recently, however, that process has broken down. Instead of both sides moving toward the middle, one side refuses to move and the other side keeps giving in, resulting in a hefty imbalance of political power and in zero compromises. The same is happening here. The scientists are willing to talk about the issues, open to discussion, and potentially willing to change the way they do their work (copyleft, additional borders for field experiments, using plants that produce sterile pollen, etc, etc). The activists want zero GMOs, the end. I don't see any effort on the part of the activists to suggest compromise or even to educate themselves enough to get to the point where they can suggest intelligent useful compromises. Instead, they make threats to destroy research and refuse to engage in discussion.
Where do we move from here? We all must make an effort to be honest, focus on the issues, and remain open minded. If we don't do that, what's the point of discussion?.

- posted on Tom's Chance's blog.___

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2012-05-15 20:11:28 (14 comments, 1 reshares, 5 +1s)

There have been lots of repeated tweets about the takeover of land grants by Monsanto today. While there is more private funding in academia than I'd like, it's hardly as bad as the anti-Monsanto folks claim. Let's look at Iowa State.

In 2011, Iowa State got $190 million from federal sources, another $32 million from state, city, and local government, and $16 million from other universities and colleges (total of $238 million). $43 million came from corporations, and that's all corporations combined (not just Monsanto). Another $58 million came from non-profits of various types.

At this website you can look month by month at the funding received from each individual agency or company, with the amount and project information: http://www.vpresearch.iastate.edu/researcher/sponfund/ Unfortunately, they don't have it divided by year at that level of detail but you can... more »

There have been lots of repeated tweets about the takeover of land grants by Monsanto today. While there is more private funding in academia than I'd like, it's hardly as bad as the anti-Monsanto folks claim. Let's look at Iowa State.

In 2011, Iowa State got $190 million from federal sources, another $32 million from state, city, and local government, and $16 million from other universities and colleges (total of $238 million). $43 million came from corporations, and that's all corporations combined (not just Monsanto). Another $58 million came from non-profits of various types.

At this website you can look month by month at the funding received from each individual agency or company, with the amount and project information: http://www.vpresearch.iastate.edu/researcher/sponfund/ Unfortunately, they don't have it divided by year at that level of detail but you can get a flavor of what's happening. For example, in April 2012 there weren't any grants from Monsanto, Dow, or Pioneer. But I did find one from the National Pork Board: $135,253 to study the "Influence of Deep Chilling Processes on Early Postmortem Events in Muscle" provided to 3 scientists in Animal Science and one in Food Science and Human Nutrition.

Given the evidence from the summary and month to month information provided publicly by Iowa State, I have a hard time believing the claim that Monsanto dominates land grant funding so much that they can influence every bit of research being done there. This seems like just another case of inflammatory rhetoric and a lack of homework.___

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2012-05-01 16:22:37 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 1 +1s)

Just in case any one I know might know this lovely young woman. She has the same name as my niece.

This is the daughter of a friend of mine who lives near Oklahoma City, OK. Her name is Kayla Annette McCuan. She has been missing since 3:30pm Friday, April 27th. Please repost this picture and help us bring her home safely. If you have seen her please notify the authorities immediately. Her family loves her very much. Thanks for your help.___Just in case any one I know might know this lovely young woman. She has the same name as my niece.

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