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Coca-Cola: obesity is your fault, not ours

Coca-Cola: obesity is your fault, not ours | my universe | Scoop.it

Via Cathryn Wellner
Norman Warthmann's insight:

I guess, in contrast to oil and petrol, a coke not consumed this week will not be consumed at all. I wonder how "healthy" a nation-/world-wide one-week-long boycott of softdrinks would be...   

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Cathryn Wellner's curator insight, April 26, 2013 1:31 PM

They're on the defensive, but Coke's ads are more offensive than effective.

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United Nations urged to ensure open plant genomes

United Nations urged to ensure open plant genomes | my universe | Scoop.it
A plant scientist from The Australian National University (ANU) has called for the United Nations to guarantee free and open access to plant DNA sequences to enable scientists to continue work to sustainably intensify world food production. Dr Norman Warthmann, a plant geneticist at the ANU Research School of Biology, has lodged a submission with the UN, which is currently considering issues to include in its 2015 Global Sustainable Development Report.
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Aspiring to something magnificent with science in Australia

Aspiring to something magnificent with science in Australia | my universe | Scoop.it
Science matters and is important for Australia's future but there is evidence mounting that we are falling behind the rest of the world.
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Scientists Seek Ban on Method of Editing the Human Genome

Scientists Seek Ban on Method of Editing the Human Genome | my universe | Scoop.it
A group of biologists, including the scientist who developed the technique, has called for a worldwide moratorium on using the method to change human DNA.
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Can GMOs Save Chocolate? – National Geographic (2015)

Can GMOs Save Chocolate? – National Geographic (2015) | my universe | Scoop.it

GMOs may be able to save chocolate. The bigger question is whether we want them to. Chocolate... is in trouble. The average American eats about 12 pounds of chocolate a year... But all that indulgence may be coming to an end. A chocolate shortage, to the tune of one million metric tons, is predicted to hit within the next five years, the result of climate change, disease, and the demands of rapidly growing populations of chocolate lovers in China and India.


The Nature Conservation Research Center based in Ghana – the world’s second-largest producer of chocolate after the Ivory Coast – predicts glumly that within the next 20 years, chocolate will be as rare and as expensive as caviar.

Chocolate comes from the seeds of the cacao tree, borne in football-sized pods that sprout directly out of the trunk. Dubbed... “food of the gods,” cacao is just what one might expect from an ancient, double-dealing deity: a delicious and addictive treat paired with a plant that is tricky, if not downright impossible, to grow. Cacao, believed to have originated in the steamy Amazon rainforest, is reluctant to adapt to conditions other than those of home: it now only grows in a belt 20 degrees north or south of the Equator...

Along with its geographical limitations, cacao is stunningly susceptible to disease – notably to witches’ broom, a fungus that wiped out the cacao trees of Ecuador in the 1920s, and devastated the chocolate plantations of Brazil... in a ten-year period... Worldwide today, cacao farmers lose an annual $750 million to disease.

Cacao trees are also painfully slow growers. It can take up to five years for a tree to produce fruit, and as long as ten before it becomes clear that the tree has desirable traits such as disease resistance or ultra-flavorful seeds... The conventional breeding process, given cacao’s tortoise-like growth rate, won’t be easy.

Conventional cacao breeding is also unpredictable. Take, for example, CCN-51... this is the cacao variety now generally acknowledged to be the world’s best bet to stave off chocolate disaster... is sturdy, disease-resistant, and prolific, producing four to ten times the yield of run-of-the-mill cacao trees. The bad news, however, is that its seeds taste lousy... Critics compare it to rusty nails, vinegar, wood shavings, and “acidic dirt.”

Despite the drawbacks, however, some large chocolate manufacturers have come around to CNN-51. About 95 percent of chocolate is made from “bulk beans,” generally inferior stuff which is heavily processed and beefed up with sugar and added flavors, such as vanilla. For such purposes, CNN-51 is just fine; and the belief is that most consumers won’t notice a difference.

For artisanal chocolate makers, however, who depend on delectable flavor beans for their high-end products, it’s a different story. “Artisan chocolate... is like a good bottle of wine,” carefully blended by master chocolatiers to contain just the right bouquet of flavor notes... These people aren’t likely to adopt a bean, no matter how prolific, that smacks of acidic dirt.

It may be time to turn to genetic engineering. The genome of the cacao plant has been sequenced as of 2011... From among chocolate’s approximately 30,000 genes (that is, about 10,000 more than us), scientists have identified gene sequences that govern disease resistance and direct the production of helpful metabolites and flavor components... 


Some researchers point out that creating an ideal GMO chocolate isn’t going to be easy. Chocolate is a mind-bogglingly complex food, containing some 600 different flavor components. (Even red wine boasts a mere 200.) Cobbling together the right mix of flavors – along with disease-resistance, a rapid growth rate, and high productivity – may prove to be an heroic task. Still, given increasing world demand and the cacao tree’s environmentally dicey future, it may be our best chance to save chocolate as we all know and love it. 

 

http://theplate.nationalgeographic.com/2015/03/18/can-gmos-save-chocolate/

 


Via Alexander J. Stein
Norman Warthmann's insight:

maybe a chocolate shortage is a good thing ?! however, probably the best bet is to grow the plants outside the native range of the pathogen.

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Zohair Ahmed's curator insight, March 22, 3:54 PM

Chocolate has been enjoyed by many Americans and Europeans, but as more and more chocolate lovers are born (China and India) the delicacy becomes more sparce. Chocolate is in trouble, the cacao trees which produces the cocoa needed for chocolate is a very hard plant to grow, and has many diseases attacking it. The trees are extremely hard to grow, and also bear fruit in 5 years, sometimes even 10! The cocoa conventional cacao tree breading is also unpredictable, and has been criticized as lousy or a nasty taste. This makes many people turn to GMO's as a solution. GMO'S would help make then resistant to the diseases and insects, but there is an overwhelming opposition to the solution of GMO'S. GMO's are a major topic of Unit 5.

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Richard Stallman’s GNU Manifesto Turns Thirty - The New Yorker

Richard Stallman’s GNU Manifesto Turns Thirty - The New Yorker | my universe | Scoop.it
The GNU Manifesto is characteristic of its author, Richard Stallman—deceptively simple, lucid, explicitly left-leaning, and entirely uncompromising.
Norman Warthmann's insight:

and it is about time to extend this principle to genomic information as we call for in our science-policy brief to the UN: 

 

Thinking a Global Open Genome Sequence Data Framework for Sustainable Development

 

https://gsdr2015.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/thinking-a-global-open-genome-sequence-data-framework-for-sustainable-development/

 

please read, rate and discuss via comments!

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Thinking a Global Open Genome Sequence Data Framework for Sustainable Development

Thinking a Global Open Genome Sequence Data Framework for Sustainable Development | my universe | Scoop.it
The cost of genome sequencing has fallen one-million fold in the past several years. The technology is widely accessible and it is now inexpensive to quickly produce genome sequence information for...
Norman Warthmann's insight:
A policy brief in which they describe the idea of a copy-left type license for DNA sequences (especially whole genome sequences) for our Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The policy brief is entitled “Thinking a Global Open Genome Sequence Data Framework for Sustainable Development”.  It is now online 
https://gsdr2015.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/thinking-a-global-open-genome-sequence-data-framework-for-sustainable-development/  Comments received before 31 March 2015 will be taken into consideration in deciding which topics to be featured in the relevant chapter(s) in the 2015 UN Global Sustainable Development Report.   
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Astroquizzical: What happens when Betelgeuse explodes?

Astroquizzical: What happens when Betelgeuse explodes? - Starts With A Bang! - Medium
It’s one of the nearest red supergiants to us, and a supernova is only a matter of time. What are we in for when it happens?
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Avianbase: a community resource for bird genomics (Genome Biology)

Giving access to sequence and annotation data for genome assemblies is important because, while facilitating research, it places both assembly and annotation quality under scrutiny, resulting in improvements to both. Therefore we announce Avianbase, a resource for bird genomics, which provides access to data released by the Avian Phylogenomics Consortium.
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Quantitative evolutionary dynamics using high-resolution lineage tracking : Nature

Quantitative evolutionary dynamics using high-resolution lineage tracking : Nature | my universe | Scoop.it
Norman Warthmann's insight:

wow!

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Rescooped by Norman Warthmann from Publications from The Sainsbury Laboratory
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Frontiers in Plant Sci: Strategies for transferring resistance into wheat: from wide crosses to GM cassettes (2014)

Frontiers in Plant Sci: Strategies for transferring resistance into wheat: from wide crosses to GM cassettes (2014) | my universe | Scoop.it
The domestication of wheat in the Fertile Crescent 10,000 years ago led to a genetic bottleneck. Modern agriculture has further narrowed the genetic base by introducing extreme levels of uniformity...

Via The Sainsbury Lab
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The Sainsbury Lab's curator insight, December 8, 2014 5:30 AM

The domestication of wheat in the Fertile Crescent 10,000 years ago led to a genetic bottleneck. Modern agriculture has further narrowed the genetic base by introducing extreme levels of uniformity on a vast spatial and temporal scale. This reduction in genetic complexity renders the crop vulnerable to new and emerging pests and pathogens. The wild relatives of wheat represent an important source of genetic variation for disease resistance. For nearly a century farmers, breeders, and cytogeneticists have sought to access this variation for crop improvement. Several barriers restricting interspecies hybridization and introgression have been overcome, providing the opportunity to tap an extensive reservoir of genetic diversity. Resistance has been introgressed into wheat from at least 52 species from 13 genera, demonstrating the remarkable plasticity of the wheat genome and the importance of such natural variation in wheat breeding. Two main problems hinder the effective deployment of introgressed resistance genes for crop improvement: (1) the simultaneous introduction of genetically linked deleterious traits and (2) the rapid breakdown of resistance when deployed individually. In this review, we discuss how recent advances in molecular genomics are providing new opportunities to overcome these problems.

Bharat Employment's curator insight, January 20, 11:42 PM

www.bharatemployment.com

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BioTechniques - The Epigenetics of Exercise

BioTechniques - The Epigenetics of Exercise | my universe | Scoop.it
Exercise is good for our health, improving everything from metabolism to lung capacity. But what brings about these changes on a molecular level? Find out...
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Rescooped by Norman Warthmann from Food Security
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Peak food? Can food tech supercharge crop yields and address global food security?

Peak food? Can food tech supercharge crop yields and address global food security? | my universe | Scoop.it
Globally, humanity has reached “peak food,” according to a recent study by Ecology and Society. Peak rice was back in 1988, causing some worry about the long-term food security of this global staple crop. Peak chicken was in 2006. Peak milk and wheat were in 2004.

Via CIMMYT, Int.
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Do TV Cooking Shows Make Us Fat?

Do TV Cooking Shows Make Us Fat? | my universe | Scoop.it
Women who cooked the meals they saw prepared on television weighed more, on average, than those who simply watched, a study shows. The findings challenge the notion that home cooking is always best.

Via Cathryn Wellner
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Cathryn Wellner's curator insight, March 19, 2:06 PM

Interesting proposition, but the link is pretty tenuous.

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France decrees new rooftops must be covered in plants or solar panels

France decrees new rooftops must be covered in plants or solar panels | my universe | Scoop.it
All new buildings in commercial zones across the country must comply with new environmental legislation
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Death of British journalist after eating organic peanuts highlights absurdity of GMO safety scare | Genetic Literacy Project

Death of British journalist after eating organic peanuts highlights absurdity of GMO safety scare | Genetic Literacy Project | my universe | Scoop.it
Death of British journalist after eating organic peanuts highlights absurdity of GMO safety scare | Isaac Ongu | March 18, 2015 | Genetic Literacy Project
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To Apply or Not to Apply: A Survey Analysis of Grant Writing Costs and Benefits

To Apply or Not to Apply: A Survey Analysis of Grant Writing Costs and Benefits | my universe | Scoop.it
Abstract

We surveyed 113 astronomers and 82 psychologists active in applying for federally funded research on their grant-writing history between January, 2009 and November, 2012. We collected demographic data, effort levels, success rates, and perceived non-financial benefits from writing grant proposals. We find that the average proposal takes 116 PI hours and 55 CI hours to write; although time spent writing was not related to whether the grant was funded. Effort did translate into success, however, as academics who wrote more grants received more funding. Participants indicated modest non-monetary benefits from grant writing, with psychologists reporting a somewhat greater benefit overall than astronomers. These perceptions of non-financial benefits were unrelated to how many grants investigators applied for, the number of grants they received, or the amount of time they devoted to writing their proposals. We also explored the number of years an investigator can afford to apply unsuccessfully for research grants and our analyses suggest that funding rates below approximately 20%, commensurate with current NIH and NSF funding, are likely to drive at least half of the active researchers away from federally funded research. We conclude with recommendations and suggestions for individual investigators and for department heads.

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Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science? (National Geographic)

Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science? (National Geographic) | my universe | Scoop.it
We live in an age when all manner of scientific knowledge--from climate change to vaccinations--faces furious opposition. Some even have doubts about the moon landing.
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Rescooped by Norman Warthmann from Plants and Microbes
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Current Opinion in Insect Science: Disruption of insect transmission of plant viruses (2015)

Current Opinion in Insect Science: Disruption of insect transmission of plant viruses (2015) | my universe | Scoop.it

Plant-infecting viruses are transmitted by a diverse array of organisms including insects, mites, nematodes, fungi, and plasmodiophorids. Virus interactions with these vectors are diverse, but there are some commonalities. Generally the infection cycle begins with the vector encountering the virus in the plant and the virus is acquired by the vector. The virus must then persist in or on the vector long enough for the virus to be transported to a new host and delivered into the plant cell. Plant viruses rely on their vectors for breaching the plant cell wall to be delivered directly into the cytosol. In most cases, viral capsid or membrane glycoproteins are the specific viral proteins that are required for transmission and determinants of vector specificity. Specific molecules in vectors also interact with the virus and while there are few-identified to no-identified receptors, candidate recognition molecules are being further explored in these systems. Due to the specificity of virus transmission by vectors, there are defined steps that represent good targets for interdiction strategies to disrupt the disease cycle. This review focuses on new technologies that aim to disrupt the virus–vector interaction and focuses on a few of the well-characterized virus–vector interactions in the field. In closing, we discuss the importance of integration of these technologies with current methods for plant virus disease control.


Via Kamoun Lab @ TSL
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Steve Marek's curator insight, February 26, 9:27 AM

Not fungal, but still an excellent review with great insights on important plant pathosystems.

Bharat Employment's curator insight, February 27, 4:46 AM

http://www.bharatemployment.com/

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Dietary guidelines panel suggests tax on sugary foods

Dietary guidelines panel suggests tax on sugary foods | my universe | Scoop.it
A tax on sugary drinks and snacks is one way a government panel of nutrition experts thinks Americans can be coaxed into eating better.

Via Cathryn Wellner
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Renata Hill's comment, February 24, 8:05 PM
Agree. Plus, I bet the sugar lobby is much bigger than I (we?) realize.
Cathryn Wellner's comment, February 24, 8:09 PM
Have you read the new U.S. dietary guidelines? I've only read about them, but it's encouraging to see the environment factored in.
Renata Hill's comment, February 24, 8:28 PM
I have not, but yes, it is.
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Climate change threatens staple potato crop in high Andes - RTCC

RTCC Climate change threatens staple potato crop in high Andes RTCC The creation of the Potato Park dates back from 1997 when an NGO called Andes Association promoted the conservation of the indigenous heritage regarding local rights, livelihoods...

Via Luigi Guarino
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New High-Tech Farm Equipment Is a Nightmare for Farmers | WIRED

New High-Tech Farm Equipment Is a Nightmare for Farmers | WIRED | my universe | Scoop.it
I squatted down in the dirt and took stock of my inadequate tools. Over my left shoulder a massive John Deere tractor loomed. I came here to fix that tractor. So far, things weren’t going as planned. I’m a computer programmer by training, and a repairman by trade. Ten years ago, I started iFixit, an…
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