How Plants Worked….A Look Back at 2015 – July

From “Natural” GMOs to Sonar-Reflecting Leaves

Question: Was there a subject that seemingly dominated the plant news in July 2015?

Answer: Yes

And that subject was transgenic plants, a.k.a., plant GMOs.

The number one “Most Influential Plant Science Research of 2015“, according to the Global Plant Council was “Sweet potato is a naturally occurring GM crop“. Though the original paper (see Ref. 1 below) was published in May 2015, I didn’t get wind of it until July. Some think that this might change people’s attitudes toward GMO crop plants. Hmmm…I wonder…

At least one person changed his attitude about GMO’s last July. It was Bill Nye, the science guy.

And, at about the same time, the online magazine Slate published a scathing report highly critical of the case against GMO’s.

In the biotechnology news of July 2015, two popular articles included the use of RNA interference as a way to improve crops and the cultivation of GMO rice as a means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

So, without further ado, here they are:

  • One of the world’s most important staple crops, the sweet potato, is a naturally transgenic plant that was genetically modified thousands of years ago by a soil bacterium. This surprising discovery may influence the public view of GM crops.” (from: Nature) A good (open access) summary of this story can be found HERE, thanks to NPR.
  • “Bill Nye used to think genetically modified organisms weren’t a great idea.” Bill Nye changes his stance on GMOs. (And you can listen to Bill explain why he’s changed his mind about GMOs at Star Talk Radio.)
  • The war against genetically modified organisms is full of fearmongering, errors, and fraud. Labeling them will not make you safer.Are GMOs safe? Yes. The case against them is full of fraud, lies, and errors.
  • RNA interference is proving to be a valuable tool for agriculture, allowing researchers to develop pathogen-resistant and more-nutritious crops.Improving crops with RNAi.
  • When it comes to major anthropogenic sources of methane (an important greenhouse gas), livestock and leaky natural gas wells and pipelines might come to mind. However, rice cultivation is also among the largest sources.Genetically modified rice makes more food, less greenhouse gas.

    And, finally, how could I not direct your attention to the following:

  • Imagine a bat flying through the jungle of Borneo. It calls out to find a place to spend the night. And a plant calls back.With sonar-reflecting leaves, plant lures bats to poo in it.
  • Reference

    1. “The genome of cultivated sweet potato contains Agrobacterium T-DNAs with expressed genes: An example of a naturally transgenic food crop.”

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