4 episodes

From CRISPR gene-edited embryos to GMO crops, biotechnology is revolutionizing medicine and farming. Scientists are increasingly able to make targeted genetic tweaks to humans, plants and animals to combat our most urgent global challenges—including hunger, disease, aging and climate change. Sadly, scientific misinformation spreads like cancer through social media and partisan blogs. Where can you turn for trustworthy analysis of groundbreaking biotechnology innovations independent of ideological bias? Who can you trust? Join the Genetic Literacy Project and our world-renowned experts as we explore the brave new world of human genetics, biomedicine, farming and food.

Science Facts & Fallacies Cameron English

    • Science
    • 4.5 • 8 Ratings

From CRISPR gene-edited embryos to GMO crops, biotechnology is revolutionizing medicine and farming. Scientists are increasingly able to make targeted genetic tweaks to humans, plants and animals to combat our most urgent global challenges—including hunger, disease, aging and climate change. Sadly, scientific misinformation spreads like cancer through social media and partisan blogs. Where can you turn for trustworthy analysis of groundbreaking biotechnology innovations independent of ideological bias? Who can you trust? Join the Genetic Literacy Project and our world-renowned experts as we explore the brave new world of human genetics, biomedicine, farming and food.

    Podcast: ‘GMOs’ are more natural than you think; CRISPR mosquitoes fight malaria; Dating apps and syphilis

    Podcast: ‘GMOs’ are more natural than you think; CRISPR mosquitoes fight malaria; Dating apps and syphilis

    A growing body of research shows that dozens of naturally transgenic plants have existed for millions of years, undermining a key claim of the anti-GMO movement. Mosquitoes edited to produce an anti-malaria protein could help save thousands of lives a year. Syphilis was nearly eradicated in 2000; thanks to the hookup culture facilitated by dating apps, the infection has come roaring back.







    Join geneticist Kevin Folta and GLP contributor Cameron English on this episode of Science Facts and Fallacies as they break down these latest news stories:



    * Worried that GMO seeds are bred in a lab? They’re not as unnatural as you think. 1 in 20 plants are naturally transgenic



    The claim that GMOs are "unnatural" endlessly circulates online. But despite its popularity as a talking point among activist groups, growing evidence indicates that naturally transgenic plants have existed for millions of years. No food or chemical is inherently safer or better for you if it's natural. Nonetheless, the new research undermines the anti-GMO movement's organizing principle: that it's trying to protect farming from "untested, unnatural creations."



    * 400,000 people – that’s how many die from malaria each year. Here’s how gene editing and gene drives could prevent those deaths



    CRISPR gene editing is shaking up food production and medicine in all sorts of important ways. In the coming years, this genetic engineering technique may help us prevent some of the more than 400,000 deaths caused by malaria every year. Researchers from Imperial College London have edited malaria-vectoring mosquitoes to produce a protein that prevents them from infecting people with the parasite that causes the disease.



    The engineered mosquitoes also pass this trait on to most of their offspring, gradually reducing the number of insects that can spread malaria. Much more research has to be done to confirm the safety and efficacy of this technology. Nonetheless, the results offer a promising example of how gene editing may help us combat deadly diseases.

























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    * a href="https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2021/04/23/dating-apps-gay-sex-and-drug-use-syphilis-and-other-sexually-transmitted-diseases-running-rampant-after-eradication-appeared-on-th...

    • 34 min
    Podcast: NatGeo promotes pesticide fears; How weed affects your brain; Real-life Jurassic Park?

    Podcast: NatGeo promotes pesticide fears; How weed affects your brain; Real-life Jurassic Park?

    Despite its long history as a reputable science magazine, National Geographic has recently embraced simplistic narratives about the environmental impact of pesticides. How does weed affect your brain? The science is more nuanced than our ongoing culture war over drug use would suggest. We might already have the technology to create some version of the legendary Jurassic Park.







    Join geneticist Kevin Folta and GLP contributor Cameron English on this episode of Science Facts and Fallacies as they break down these latest news stories:



    * Viewpoint: Why is National Geographic embracing simplistic activist narratives on nuanced pesticide controversies?



    Everybody agrees that reducing pesticide use is an important target on our way to sustainable farming. But protecting our food from insects, weeds and other pests is still necessary if we want to eat, and for now that means carefully using relatively small quantities of chemical crop protection tools. Sadly, such nuance has been lost on NatGeo. Despite its vaunted reputation, the legendary science magazine has decided to promote exaggerated narratives about the dangers of pesticides.



    * 1/3 of American adults can now legally smoke marijuana. Here is how weed affects your brain and body, for good and bad



    As weed becomes legal in more jurisdictions and its recreational use increases, new research is expanding our understanding of the drug's impacts, both good and bad, on our health. Smoking marijuana, it turns out, isn't the life-destroying habit those government-funded PSAs from the 1990s suggested, but neither is it the wonder drug some legalization advocates have promoted.



    * Jurassic Park in real life? We have the technology to create ‘super exotic novel species,’ Neuralink co-founder claims



    “We could probably build jurassic park if we wanted to. wouldn’t be genetically authentic dinosaurs but [shrug],” Neuralink co-founder Max Hodak tweeted recently. “Maybe 15 years of breeding + engineering to get super exotic novel species.” Hodak's comments raise the perennial questions that pops up every time new genetic technologies become the subject of conversation: Does the fact that we can do something mean we should do something?

























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    • 38 min
    Podcast: Media’s COVID hypocrisy; Mandatory vaccines; Biodegradable plastic from GM plants

    Podcast: Media’s COVID hypocrisy; Mandatory vaccines; Biodegradable plastic from GM plants

    The mainstream press has viciously criticized COVID conspiracy theorists and vaccine rejection. Yet when it comes to other critical science topics, say pesticide safety and animal agriculture, the media uncritically amplifies conspiratorial thinking and bad science. The Supreme Court has ruled that the government can make vaccination mandatory in the interest in public health. Are there any downsides to such a policy? Plastic pollution is a critical environmental problem; GM crops that produce biodegradable plastic might help finally solve the problem.







    Join geneticist Kevin Folta and GLP contributor Cameron English on this episode of Science Facts and Fallacies as they break down these latest news stories:



    * Follow The Science? How The Media's Hypocrisy Undermines Critical Thinking In The Age Of COVID







    The same media outlets that tell you to get a COVID vaccine and reject coronavirus conspiracies will also promote organic food as a safer choice, though there is no evidence behind such a recommendation, and spread myths about the dangers of so-called "industrial farming." How do these double standards impact the public's trust in scientists?



    * ‘Public health can supersede individual rights’: Government mandated vaccinations are not violations of personal liberty, courts determined a century ago



    Does the government have the authority to require Americans to be vaccinated? Yes, says the Supreme Court; protecting public health from an infectious disease supersedes any claim to individual rights. Moreover, many experts say such a policy is necessary to reach herd immunity when too few people refuse to get vaccinated. Is it possible that this heavy-handed approach will backfire, actually decreasing vaccine uptake, or are Americans just hyper-skeptical of their government?























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    * Biodegradable plastic from plants: How GE camelina could advance industrial sustainability



    Plastic pollution caused by single-use items like...

    • 33 min
    Podcast: Nature makes ‘GMO’ fish; Biology and gender; Curing sickle cell with CRISPR

    Podcast: Nature makes ‘GMO’ fish; Biology and gender; Curing sickle cell with CRISPR

    Anti-GMO groups have long warned about the dangers of AquaBounty's genetically engineered salmon. But as it turns out, transgenic fish probably evolved naturally long ago, according to a new study. Should scientists cease their efforts to find a biological basis for gender? A CRISPR-based therapy for sickle cell anemia is going into clinical trials, moving the potentially life-saving treatment closer to commercialization.







    Join geneticist Kevin Folta and GLP editor Cameron English on this episode of Science Facts and Fallacies as they break down these latest news stories:



    * Skeptical of AquaBounty’s salmon? Nature makes GM fish, too



    With the commercialization of AquaBounty's fast-growing salmon imminent, some anti-GMO groups have doubled down on their warnings that the 'unnatural' fish poses a risk to the environment. But as it turns out, transgenic fish may have evolved naturally. A March 2021 study published in Trends in Genetics argues that rainbow smelt stole the antifreeze gene that helps them survive icy coastal waters from herring roughly 20 million years ago. The research adds to a growing body of evidence that mother nature made 'GMOs' before any scientists ever thought it possible.



    * Viewpoint: Why the effort to find a ‘biological basis’ for being transgender is misguided and unhelpful



    How should we think about gender? As our knowledge of human biology grows and the political debate over transgender rights evolves, the question has proved difficult to answer. According to a 2015 literature review, "there is increasing evidence of a biological basis for gender identity," and preliminary research has pinpointed gene variants "implicated in the growth of brain cells or the production of sex hormones such as oestrogen and testosterone" that could influence gender identity.

























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    While research of this sort could "change physicians' perspective on transgender medicine and improve health care for these patients," other commentators argue that this whole project is a dangerous example of biological essentialism that may undermine ac...

    • 28 min

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chumbelone ,

Truth Seeker

Kevin and Cameron lay out the facts and discuss disinformation on this podcast. Myth busting through evidence, not emotion. Current episodes run a breezy thirty minutes. They’re fair and kind—if the uninformed and misinformed can sit for half an hour, progress can be made.

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