The modern technologies in medicinal and agricultural biotechnology are powerful tools that can address a wide range of problems. From improved plants, animals and microbes, the technologies known as genetic engineering (familiarly "GMOs") are mostly misunderstood and oftentimes maligned. These technologies are well regarded by scientists, yet approached skeptically by a concerned public. The disparity has been conjured by prevalent misinformation on the internet and in activist literature and documentaries. At the same time farmers and scientists have not been good communicators about what the technology is, and isn't.
The Talking Biotech Podcast is a weekly podcast that provides science-based discussion on current topics. The discussion is led by Dr. Kevin Folta, a professor with training in these areas and familiarity with the scholarly literature. Guest will describe current issues in biotechnology, twitter-based questions are answered, and there is a segment dedicated to plant genetic improvement from domestication through today's breeding efforts.
The podcast is geared to anyone wishing to know more about biotechnology, its risks and benefits, and how it can be used to help farmers, the needy, consumers and the environment.
267 – Genetic Engineering in Animal Agriculture
Technology is driving innovation on the farm, and there have been significant efforts in improving livestock. Whether it was to produce a novel therapeutic or to solve a critical disease in animals, genetic engineering techniques have been used to target significant animal and human problems. There are many more successful innovations than commercial successes, as the regulatory climate is highly unfavorable to animal recombinant DNA technology. Dr. Mark Westhusin from Texas A&M University has been a leader in application of these tools to animal systems. In this episode we discuss the innovations, the regulations, and some of the solutions to animal agriculture problems worldwide.
266 – Gene Writing: New Tech to Correct Disease
Gene editing is a relatively new technology that has revolutionary applications in agriculture and medicine. The drawback to the technology is that it typically can only be used to disrupt a deleterious gene underlying a specific trait. Gene writing exploits a natural process in cells that allows researchers to install genes of interest, allowing replacement of damaged sequences that lead to negative health outcomes. Dr. Geoff von Maltzahn of Tessera describes what the new technology is and its most likely applications, particularly in the area of correcting genetic disease.
Twitter: Tessera @TesseraTx
Dr. Geoffrey von Maltzahn; @GVMaltzahn
265 – Onion Domestication and Improvement
The onion has tremendous value in culinary applications all over the world. Where did it come from? What are the major breeding efforts and the important traits. Today’s podcast discusses the onion’s origin and future directions with Dr. Michael Havey, USDA-ARS/University of Wisconsin onion breeder. He speaks of the onion’s interesting background, its surprising genome, and traits that will define the onion of the future. A very interesting discussion of an important world food crop.
Havey Lab Website
246 – What are Pumpkins?
On Halloween it is hard to remember that the pumpkins used for decoration are actually an important food for indigenous people of the Americas. There are multiple species of pumpkins that originated in North and South America, and primarily used for food. Dr. Harry Paris is a retired Senior Researcher and fruit breeder from the Volcani Center in Israel. We discuss the origins of pumpkins, how they moved in the New World, as well as the diversity and uses for this important fruit.
263 – The Ethics of Gene Editing
Gene editing moved quickly from the lab to application, so fast that the public is unsure how to think about it. We can cure disease, but are we playing with the natural order of things? These are questions that philosophers and ethicists wrestle with every day. in this week’s podcast we discuss the recent events in germline gene editing and how it is perceived by the public and by scientists.
Follow Dr. Gyngell’s group: @Berg_MCRI
262 – New Technology Same GMOs : My Commentary
This week two scientists pioneering gene editing won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Days later, a group of perennial naysayers gathered to denounce the technology. Gene editing is a revolutionary technology that already has had amazing effects on medicine and some applications in agriculture. The potential is limitless. But this new technology can install precise changes in genes, emulating natural mutations. They also cannot be detected, at least discernably from naturally-occurring mutations. This threatens the anti-GMO movement and its many tentacles, especially the Non-GMO Project, an organization that profits from brokering fear around safe food. These new technologies will evade their detection, making their meaningless label even more meaningless. The “esteemed panel” is composed of individuals that have been fighting technology for years. I play their roundtable discussion, and provide my commentary in real time, illuminating their deception, their disinformation, and tactics to create fear, uncertainty and doubt around a good technology.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Very informative and easy to understand!
Excellent resource for people who are looking to get a better understanding of what GMOs are, how they work, and their place in humanity’s history of agriculture, as well as how they can be a tool against climate change and human suffering. Kevin Folta cares deeply about helping the general public understand science so they can form educated opinions on this important this important topic.
Why aren’t you listening already?
I’ve been a fan of this podcast for several years and it continually delivers strong science, interesting conversations, and great ideas. The podcast only continues to improve as more episodes are released.
Great Biotech Discussions
I am really glad that I came across this while looking for science podcasts. This covers a wide variety of biotech innovations and issues, including public perception of and controversies surrounding biotechnology. I have been listening for several months now and continue to enjoy the way that they dive into the topics.