It is a modern marvel that we can receive reports on our ancestry with some cash and some spit: 23&Me and Ancestry.com lead the charge in these efforts. Using variable regions of our DNA, these companies have optimized software to estimate what populations we might have descended from. Some companies also offer information on various traits or characteristics including quirky features such as whether we have an increased risk of tasting cilantro as soap.
In the early 90s, I lived in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, a city that was known for music, art, and its green Valle del Turbio. This valley carried the name of the Rio Turbio that runs through it. Along the valley were acres upon acres of sugarcane farms, and this sprawling area ran like a green ribbon through the urban region. From our home, the beautiful vista looked idyllic, until the sugarcane was harvested.
To harvest the sugarcane, which occurred more than once a year, the farms practiced controlled burning. This practice makes the harvesting process much easier since the blades of…
Non-GMO labels are frequently found on processed foods as well as fruits and vegetables in the grocery store. However, these labels are fairly arbitrary because they single out specific crop modification techniques with no good reason. In this article, I aim to explore why crops are modified, to provide an overview of crop modification techniques, and to address some common concerns about the modification of crops.
Crops are modified so that they have new features, known as traits. These include:
Measles has been spreading throughout Europe, particularly in Romania. According to this recent article from the World Health Organization, Romania has “reported over 3400 cases and 17 deaths since January 2016”. Unfortunately, these deaths mostly occurred among individuals “who were immunocompromised or had other co-morbidities.”
I recently shared an article about this outbreak on Facebook, and several individuals commented asking whether it was tied to the recent wave of refugees that have entered Europe, particularly as a result of the Syrian war. It led to discussions about the possibility of refugees choosing to waive vaccinations due to religious beliefs, about…
I set out to learn about GMOs about four years ago when I was a new mom and trying to navigate through all the noise about “what’s best for your child”. As a human molecular geneticist, I decided to read the scientific literature on my own and to document my learning on my personal blog. During the course of these four years, as my knowledge increased, I began publishing on different websites and advocating for evidence-based policies and decision-making in our food system. Despite the fact that these efforts have been conducted in my spare time and as a hobby…
We recently published an article on this platform highlighting that we avoid the Non-GMO Project’s label because it does not tell consumers any information regarding the item’s healthfulness, its impact on the environment, or the pesticides used to grow crops. Many of the comments we received expressed that although GMOs may indeed be safe, there are socio-economic factors surrounding these crops which give consumers pause. Today, we write to address these concerns and highlight that such socio-economic factors are not unique to GMOs.
We are scientists and moms concerned about the health of our children and the planet they will inherit. Last year, we wrote to celebrities campaigning for labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMO) and invited them to talk to scientists and farmers about their concerns. Today, we’re writing about why we avoid Non-GMO and GMO-free labels, especially the Non-GMO Project’s label.