Category Archives: Genetic Engineering

Can CRISPR Eliminate Malaria?

Eliminating malaria may soon be possible, spreading resistance genes among mosquito populations in a chain reaction driven by CRISPR One of the nightmares associated with genetically modified (GM) crops has been the worry that a genetic change engineered in the laboratory might somehow “escape” from a target crop and spread like fire through natural populations,… Read More »

Monsanto Should Renounce the Terminator

The world leader in applying biotechnology to agriculture, St. Louis’ Monsanto, is in the process of acquiring a little-known cotton seed company, Delta & Pine Land, and with it U.S. patent 5,723,765. This patent covers an ingenious “technology protection system” that can be used to ensure that genetically modified plants produce sterile seeds. The commercial… Read More »

The real promise of plant genetic engineering

In the last decade the United States has undergone a revolution in agriculture. Genetically modified crops of corn, cotton, and soybeans are now commonplace — in 1999, over half of the 72 million acres planted with soybeans in the United States were planted with seeds genetically modified to be herbicide resistant, with the result that… Read More »

Manufacturing Biofuels

Hurricane Bill strengthened today as it bore down on Bermuda, the strongest of three tropical storms that formed this week. My wife took advantage of the cash-for-clunkers program last week to buy a Prius that gets 50 miles per gallon.  Down the road, I find that my local BP (British Petrolium) gas station has rebranded… Read More »


Early this year the Food and Drug Administration approved the first drug produced by a genetically engineered farm animal.  In what I am sure will be followed by many pharmaceuticals produced on the farm (“pharming”… get it?), a human gene was transferred into goats and the drug harvested from the goat milk. As you might… Read More »

Should we label genetically modified foods?

Few issues manage to raise the temperature of discussions about plant genetic engineering more than labelling of genetically modified (GM) crops. Agricultural producers have argued that there are no demonstrable risks, so that a GM label can only have the function of scaring off wary consumers. Consumer advocates respond that consumers have every right to… Read More »

Here is how genetic engineering is done

Much of the work being presented at the XVI International Botanical Congress, meeting at the convention center this week, involves genetic engineering. Put simply, gene engineering is moving genes from one organism to another. Many scientists think of genetic engineering as a powerful tool with which to mold a better world. Others think transgenic plants… Read More »

Fighting Hunger with Flood-Tolerant Rice. 

More than any other food, rice feeds our world.  Fully half the world’s population eats rice as a staple; it makes up fully two-thirds of the diet of subsistence farmers in Bangladesh and India.  Most of those reading this column have seen pictures of Asian rice fields – typically small level plots terraced up a… Read More »