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Science Facts & Fallacies

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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 ideologic… Continue Reading >>
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. << Show Less
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Podcast: CRISPR can cause cancer? Vitamin B6 may fight depression; COVID ‘groupthink’ CRISPR gene editing has already proved to be a useful biomedical tool, but a recent study indicates it may damage DNA and rarely lead to cancer. How worried should we be? Vitamin B6 may help mitigate the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Is it time to start popping vitamin pills again? COVID-19 abruptly forced scientists into the political spotlight, turning a pandemic into a partisan battle. Can we learn from this mistake before another public health crisis comes along?



Join geneticist Kevin Folta and GLP contributor Cameron English on episode 180 of Science Facts and Fallacies as they break down these latest news stories:

* CRISPR may not always be safe: Study finds gene editing can damage genome and in extreme cases cause cancer

Recently published evidence indicates that CRISPR gene editing may cause unintended changes to a patient's DNA that could, in rare circumstances, lead to cancer. The results raise a pressing question: what steps can experts take to mitigate serious, though uncommon, risks linked to a useful, even life-saving genetic technology already used to treat patients?




* Vitamin B6 shown effective in treating depression and anxiety

Anxiety and depression are treated with cognitive behavioral therapy and a wide range of FDA-approved drugs. According to a recent study, however, a simple vitamin B6 supplement could augment these standard treatments and help mitigate the symptoms associated with these mental health conditions. What do the study's results actually tell us? More importantly, what don't they tell us?

* Viewpoint: Groupthink — How the COVID pandemic made scientists into politicians, with equally loyal followers

During the COVID-19 pandemic, science became politicized like never before. Career academics and federal regulators were suddenly thrust in front of microphones and cameras and expected to make authoritative statements about a virus nobody knew very much about. The predictable result was vitriolic partisan clashes, during which some experts and their supporters attacked other scientists and their supporters.

Can we learn from these unfortunate circumstances and incorporate the lessons into our preparations for the next public health emergency—before it arrives?

Kevin M. Folta is a professor, keynote speaker and podcast host. Follow Professor Folta on Twitter @kevinfolta

Cameron J. English is the director of bio-sciences at the American Council on Science and Health. Visit his website and follow ACSH on Twitter @ACSHorg
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Podcast: CRISPR can cause cancer? Vitamin B6 may fight depression; COVID ‘groupthink’ CRISPR gene editing has already proved to be a useful biomedical tool, but a recent study indicates it may damage DNA and rarely lead to cancer. How worried should we be? Vitamin B6 may help mitigate the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Is it time to start popping vitamin pills again? COVID-19 abruptly forced scientists into the political spotlight, turning a pandemic into a partisan battle. Can we learn from this mistake before another public health crisis comes along?



Join geneticist Kevin Folta and GLP contributor Cameron English on episode 180 of Science Facts and Fallacies as they break down these latest news stories:

* CRISPR may not always be safe: Study finds gene editing can damage genome and in extreme cases cause cancer

Recently published evidence indicates that CRISPR gene editing may cause unintended changes to a patient's DNA that could, in rare circumstances, lead to cancer. The results raise a pressing question: what steps can experts take to mitigate serious, though uncommon, risks linked to a useful, even life-saving genetic technology already used to treat patients?




* Vitamin B6 shown effective in treating depression and anxiety

Anxiety and depression are treated with cognitive behavioral therapy and a wide range of FDA-approved drugs. According to a recent study, however, a simple vitamin B6 supplement could augment these standard treatments and help mitigate the symptoms associated with these mental health conditions. What do the study's results actually tell us? More importantly, what don't they tell us?

* Viewpoint: Groupthink — How the COVID pandemic made scientists into politicians, with equally loyal followers

During the COVID-19 pandemic, science became politicized like never before. Career academics and federal regulators were suddenly thrust in front of microphones and cameras and expected to make authoritative statements about a virus nobody knew very much about. The predictable result was vitriolic partisan clashes, during which some experts and their supporters attacked other scientists and their supporters.

Can we learn from these unfortunate circumstances and incorporate the lessons into our preparations for the next public health emergency—before it arrives?

Kevin M. Folta is a professor, keynote speaker and podcast host. Follow Professor Folta on Twitter @kevinfolta

Cameron J. English is the director of bio-sciences at the American Council on Science and Health. Visit his website and follow ACSH on Twitter @ACSHorg
GLP Podcast: EPA’s political weedkiller rules; GMO-derived beer on sale; Anti-glyphosate webinar review The Biden Administration just overruled its own scientists at the EPA, mandating regulations that effectively ban the low-risk, effective weedkiller atrazine. Why? Beer made with genetically engineered yeast went on sale in San Francisco recently; the traditionally anti-GMO Bay Area has welcomed these biotech-enhanced brews with open arms. Has the herbicide glyphosate saturated our environment? A panel of organic-food activists made that case during a July 19 webinar. Let's take a closer look at their claims.



Join geneticist Kevin Folta and GLP contributor Cameron English on episode 179 of Science Facts and Fallacies as they break down these latest news stories:

* Viewpoint: Science-Free Webinar: Carey Gillam's Latest Glyphosate Hysteria, Debunked

Have farmers "drenched" their crops in glyphosate, allowing the weedkiller to permeate our environment? That was the theme of a recent webinar featuring Carey Gillam, Kelly Ryerson (the self-described "Glyphosate Girl") and other anti-pesticide activists. The panel featured no dissenting voices and the speakers took no questions. A careful review of the facts indicates that the panelists radically diverged from the scientific evidence.

* Viewpoint: Follow the science? Biden Administration politicizes EPA by ignoring its own scientists in backdoor way to ban atrazine. It will harm farming and increase food prices

The weedkiller atrazine has been in use since the 1950s. It's a useful crop-protection tool for corn growers because it inhibits photosynthesis in a wide variety of weeds, but the crop itself detoxifies atrazine, mitigating its herbicidal effects. The EPA has routinely reviewed the evidence surrounding the weedkiller and re-approved its use by licensed pesticide applicators. Yet, the Biden Administration, in opposition to the EPA's experts, has mandated restrictions that effectively ban atrazine. What has driven the administration to this decision?












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* <a href="https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=https-3A__geneticliteracyproject.org_2022_07_19_mind-2Dboggling-2Dfruity-2Dcraft-2Dbeers-2Dproduced-2Dwith-2Dgmo-2Dyeast-2Dfinds-2Drapturous-2Dfans_&d=DwMGaQ&c=sJ6xIWYx-zLMB3EPkvcnVg&r=_dGCufwzzwaXlslNsv0MRQ&m=K4_mn3Heae5zPznJZd2kAtTJdElYmwDX6Kt-n0qOzQwbEYkhHx5jWCRKu37rW3L8&s=xbnYrBeYZLuDUvykyq4yXBW464WSpsW8vP-X5c-PTAg&e=" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer...
Podcast: Guardian’s glyphosate hysteria debunked; Intensive farming and pandemics; Where did dogs come from? There's probably minute quantities of weedkiller in your urine. Should you panic? No. Will technological advances in farming reduce or amplify the risk of another pandemic? A new study offers some helpful insights. Finally, we're getting closer to pinning down the evolutionary origins of modern dogs.



Join geneticist Kevin Folta and GLP contributor Cameron English on episode 178 of Science Facts and Fallacies as they break down these latest news stories:


* Glyphosate detected in 80% of urine? Reason for alarm or deceptive data distortion?

A recent study found that 80 percent of people have detectable levels of glyphosate in their urine. The result set off a media firestorm, led by Guardian contributor Carey Gillam, a longtime critic of the widely used weedkiller. News reports emphasized just how "disturbing" the study's result was, but none of the media coverage appropriately contextualized the data. Should we really be worried that small quantities of glyphosate show up in our urine?

* Viewpoint: Anti-technology activists claim coronavirus outbreaks could be exacerbated by intensive farming. Here’s why they are dead wrong

Environmental groups routinely assert that "industrial" farming could unleash another pandemic by committing additional land to agriculture and herding domesticated animals in confined spaces. This combination, activists say, boosts our exposure to exotic animals and the viruses they harbor and encourages their spread among animals we raise for food production. While this threat is real, it has been exaggerated as part of an effort to oppose technological advances in farming. In fact, it is those innovations that will help us prevent the next pandemic.

* We finally know how modern dogs arose from ancient wolf populations

It's well known that dogs are descended from grey wolves, though their ancestry is much more complicated that we thought, according to research just published in Nature. The authors examined 72 genomes from ancient wolves going back 100,000 years and compared these with genomes of the dog breeds we keep as pets today. Conclusion: dogs are most similar to ancient Siberian wolves, but they likely descended from two different wild populations, one from Asia and the other from Europe.

The results suggest that humans domesticated dogs before the advent of agriculture, but important question have yet to be answered. “We still can’t tell whether there were two independent domestication events followed by merging of those two populations, or if there was just a single domestication process, followed by mixing from wild wolves,” Dr Anders Bergström, first author of the research at the Francis Crick Institute, told The Guardian. Future research will have to pin down the geographical origins of modern dogs, he added.


Kevin M. Folta is a professor, keynote speaker and podcast host. Follow Professor Folta on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/kevinfolta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer external nofollow" data...
Podcast: Pesticides cancel benefits of fruits and veggies? Drought-tolerant wheat coming soon? Do DNA diets work? Do pesticide residues on food counteract the benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables? The FDA recently approved a genetically engineered wheat variety that can withstand drought conditions. When will farmers be allowed to grow this enhanced crop? Finally, can DNA-based diets better help you achieve your fitness goals?



Join geneticist Kevin Folta and GLP contributor Cameron English on episode 177 of Science Facts and Fallacies as they break down these latest news stories:


* Pesticides Negate Benefits of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption? No


A recent study suggested that pesticide exposure through food may offset the benefits eating fruits and vegetables. The paper drew a lot of media attention, though nobody discussed the study's significant limitations. Do pesticide residues really cancel out the benefits of consuming produce, or is this more hype than science?



* Gene-edited HB4 wheat clears FDA evaluation in ‘key step’ towards commercializing GM wheat in USA

Drought-tolerant wheat containing a sunflower gene may help farmers preserve their crop yields amid a changing climate. The new trait was recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration; however, regulatory delays and trade restrictions in other countries could slow the release of this enhanced crop. When will farmers around the world begin to benefit from this drought-tolerance technology?












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* Viewpoint: DNA diets—Can knowing your genes help you nutritionally optimize your meal choices?

Our genetics exert influence over our health and behavior in a wide variety of ways. Is it possible that our genes impact the nutritional choices we make? Can understanding your DNA help you eat healthier? No—or at least not yet. Our knowledge of the human genome isn't quite good enough to dispense this sort of personalized dietary advice.



Kevin M. Folta is a professor, keynote speaker and podcast host. Follow Professor Folta on Twitter @...
GLP Podcast: Non-GMO Project targets synthetic biology; What do our genes do? Time to toss your multivitamin? The Non-GMO Project has targeted synthetic biology on behalf of consumers, but does the public really need protection from a technology that promotes sustainable food production? DNA sequencing technology has given scientists an unprecedented looked at the function of our genes. What have they found thus far? Is it time to give up daily multivitamins? A new paper indicates that these supplements aren't doing much to improve public health.



Join geneticist Kevin Folta and GLP contributor Cameron English on episode 176 of Science Facts and Fallacies as they break down these latest news stories:

* Viewpoint: The disinformation-promoting Non-GMO Project takes on synthetic biology on behalf of the consumer. Are they really on your side?

Synthetic biology enables scientists to produce mass quantities of ingredients used in a variety of foods, even dairy proteins utilized to make "animal-free" ice cream. The Non-GMO Project has taken exception to this development, warning consumers that they have a new source of "GMOs" to worry about. The project's assertion does not stand up to careful scrutiny.

* A map of the human genome shows the function of every gene we know so far

Thanks to CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, researchers can tweak specific bits of DNA and observe the impact of those changes in real time using modern sequencing techniques. The technology has helped produce a remarkably detailed map of the human genome, helping us gain a better understanding of the functions our genes play.












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* Rethink your daily multivitamin: Most vitamin supplements likely useless at preventing cancer or strokes

Are multivitamins useless? For many of us, the answer might be "yes," according to the results of a recent meta-analysis. After surveying the available evidence, the researchers concluded that only pregnant women and people with diagnosed vitamin deficiencies and other health conditions may benefit from daily supplementation. Is it really time to throw out our multivitamins?

Kevin M. Folta is a professor, keynote speaker and podcast host. Follow Professor Folta on Twitter @kevinfolta
...
GLP Podcast: Epoch Times’ glyphosate hysteria debunked; Paxlovid rebound; Melatonin isn’t for kids? Right-wing newspaper the Epoch Times recently published an anti-glyphosate story you might expect to see from a progressive activist group. Why have the fringes of both political parties endorsed the same techno-phobic claims about modern agriculture? Paxlovid is the best COVID-19 therapy we have. So why are some patients displaying symptoms after treatment with this anti-viral drug? Melatonin is widely consumed as a safe, "natural" sleep aid. But it may carry more risks than we thought—especially for children.



Join geneticist Kevin Folta and GLP contributor Cameron English on episode 175 of Science Facts and Fallacies as they break down these latest news stories:

* Viewpoint: Rightwing The Epoch Times circulates anti-GMO hysteria and disinformation usually found on the ‘natural’ left

Activists on opposite sides of the political spectrum disagree about almost everything. One of the few exceptions appears to be their mutual willingness to deny the safety and efficacy of modern pesticides, most notably the weedkiller glyphosate. Why do people with such drastically different worldviews agree on this particular issue?




* Should COVID sufferers avoid Paxlovid because of symptoms?

Of the few treatments we have for COVID-19, the anti-viral Paxlovid is currently the most effective. Experts were briefly puzzled when they began to see patients recover from infection after using the drug then quickly develop new symptoms. We're they reinfected shortly after treatment, or is there another explanation for so-called "Paxlovid rebound"?












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* Is melatonin a safe and risk-free sleep aid — as many doctors contend?
GLP Podcast: Why non-smokers get cancer; Spotting diseases during pregnancy; Earth-friendly industrialized farming? Many smokers don't get lung cancer. But why do so many non-smokers end up with the disease? A preliminary study suggests that fetal facial scans could help physicians detect serious diseases in unborn children. Does "industrialized" farming really threaten biodiversity? Not exactly. In fact, one agricultural scientist says advances in plant breeding can help preserve the environment.



Join geneticist Kevin Folta and GLP contributor Cameron English on episode 174 of Science Facts and Fallacies as they break down these latest news stories:


* Unraveling the mystery of who gets lung cancer — and why

The question has frustrated epidemiologists for decades: why do so many non-smokers develop lung cancer? A number of environmental contributors have been proposed over the years, though solid evidence for any one of them remains elusive. Fortunately, advances in DNA sequencing have begun to offer some helpful insights. Research has shown that smokers and non-smokers typically develop different kinds of lung cancer with unique genetic signatures that even respond differently to the same treatment. Will scientists ever fully explain this mystery?


* How fetal facial scans can help identify serious diseases early

Could facial scans performed during pregnancy help doctors identify serious diseases? A team of researchers from India say—maybe. They've conducted a small study of 102 children which suggests that certain morphological features identified during an ultrasound could help diagnose inherited genetic disorders that went undetected previously. The results are encouraging, but the study authors stressed the need for more research to confirm their results.












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* Is conventional ‘industrialized’, technology-driven farming ‘destroying biodiversity’ as critics claim — or saving it?

Environmental activist groups have long opposed "industrialized" farming. While these organizations champion ‘low input agroecology-based farms,’ scientists are trying to harness the power of plant breeding to make conventional agriculture more intensive. The goal? Produce crop varieties ready to withstand the withering effects of climate change and the onslaught of plant diseases that can devastate a farmer's yields. Have these research projects achieved any success thus far? And what sort of progress can we expect in the future?


Kevin M. Folta is a professor, keynote speaker and podcast host. Follow Professor Folta on Twitter <a href="https...
GLP Podcast: Teenage psychopaths? Cancer-free smokers; Pesticide propaganda in Europe Are young people more likely to display narcissistic and psychopathic traits? If so, why? A recent study has proposed intriguing answers to both questions. Geneticists may have finally explained why many smokers never get lung cancer. US Activist groups are targeting the EU with "studies" alleging that the continent's food supply has been tainted with dangerous pesticides. Is there any truth behind their campaign?



Join geneticist Kevin Folta and GLP contributor Cameron English on episode 173 of Science Facts and Fallacies as they break down these latest news stories:

* ‘Dark personalities’: When are destructive traits like narcissism and psychopathy most likely to appear?

Teenagers and young adults are most likely to display personality characteristics associated with narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism, three traits that make up the so-called "Dark Triad." That's according to a recent survey of 4,000 Dutch and Belgian people published in the Journal of Research in Personality. Psychologists need to perform additional studies with bigger, more diverse sample sizes to confirm these results, but assuming they're valid for the moment, what might cause younger people to display these anti-social traits? The answer may lie in our evolutionary history.

* What’s in our genes that explains why some lifelong smokers never get cancer?

It's a mystery that's confounded scientists for years: how can so many people smoke a pack of cigarettes (or more) a day for decades and never develop lung cancer? Thanks to recent advances in DNA sequencing technology, researchers have identified "repair genes" that may offer an explanation. This recently revealed evidence indicates that some heavy smokers may be able to repair tobacco-induced lung damage more efficiently than other people can.












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* Viewpoint: Toxic fruits and vegetables? Inspired by Environmental Working Group’s chemical scare fundraising gimmick in the US, Pesticide Action Network brings disinformation to E...
GLP Podcast: Vitamin-D boosted CRISPR tomatoes; Don’t fear monkeypox; Environmentalism is anti-technology Consumers in the UK may soon have access to a gene-edited tomato that boosts their vitamin D levels. Monkeypox is here, but don't panic, experts say, because the threat is manageable. Has the environmental movement only recently developed an allergy to technology, or has it always harbored skepticism of scientific innovation?



Join geneticist Kevin Folta and GLP contributor Cameron English on episode 172 of Science Facts and Fallacies as they break down these latest news stories:

* CRISPR gene-edited tomatoes — with as much provitamin D as two eggs — could soon be sold in Britain

Millions of people around the globe don't get sufficient vitamin D. Fortunately, a CRISPR-edited tomato developed by scientists in the UK may soon start to put a dent in the world's vitamin D deficiency. A single genetic tweak directed the plant to produce more of an enzyme the human body converts to Vitamin D. Two important questions arise from the research: is the tomato safe, and when might consumers gain access to it?

* Should you be ‘crazy scared’ about monkeypox? Here’s why scientists say ‘no’

Still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, it's not surprising that many people have reacted with concern to the new threat posed by monkeypox. Although the virus is circulating and can be harmful, there's little reason to worry at this point. Not only do virologists have a much better understanding of monkeypox than they do SARS-CoV-2, we've had a safe, effective vaccine to blunt its transmission for many years. The shot even helps mitigate illness after someone's been exposed to the virus.












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* Viewpoint: From energy to agriculture, the mainstream environmentalism movement has become anti-technology

Environmental groups have long been opponents of important technological innovations—biotech crops, nuclear power and pesticides being the most common examples. What drives these activist organizations to so consistently oppose scientific progress? Is it a recent development in their ideology, or has it been there since the beginning of the modern environmental movement?

Kevin M. Folta is a professor, keynote speaker and podcast host. Follow Professor Folta on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/kevinfolta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer external nofollow" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://twitter.com/kevinfolta&source=gmail&ust=1552338471348000&usg=AFQjCNGX-Z1qejcy8BMxUbd2aFHJxLM9DA" data-wpel-...
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