[ESSAY] What happened to the middle in the GMO debate?

This essay was written by Miles Traer.  If you’d like to hear Miles read it, click play below.


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The debate surrounding genetically modified organisms, often called GMOs, is an absolute mess.  A huge part of the argument stems from genetically modified foods.  Some people trumpet GM wheat and corn for its drought resistance and ability to feed more people in parts of the world that desperately need food.  Others point to unwanted side effects like the creation of super-weeds and the potential loss of biodiversity as reasons to be wary of this new technology. But what drove my desire to do a GMO story for Generation Anthropocene was something entirely different and was born from two intertwined questions: how did the GMO discussion become so polarized and why does it continue to feel like the topic of GMOs doesn’t allow for a middle ground? Continue reading

Media, nature, and the zeitgeist

Today, we take a little bit of break from talking about science to instead talk about how media covers science, particularly the reporting on genetically modified organisms (more commonly called GMOs).  It’s a contentious subject, and Keith talks about why people tend to take it so personally, when he got interested in GMOs, and what caused him to become the “crop cop.”


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The mouse brain detective

What does brain science have to do with the Anthropocene? We’re not entirely sure. But the Generation Anthropocene team is venturing into the world of the brain with the co-editor of the NeuroBlog to talk about it anyways. Neuroscientist Nick Weiler discusses powerful new techniques used to map the brain at the molecular scale and how the manipulation of mouse whiskers can teach us how the brain changes as we learn. Nick also takes a moment to explain why the concept of consciousness is best left to the philosophers rather than the neuroscientists… but that won’t stop him from commenting on it too. [correction: Nick has corrected a statement he mentioned in the interview regarding the size of a mouse brain.  He previously said it was 50x smaller than a human brain when in reality, it is 2500x smaller.]

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The dawn of de-extinction

Hank Greely and Jake Sherkow discuss the science, morals, and ethics of de-extinction: bringing extinct species back to life.  As lawyers with an interest in biotechnologies, Hank and Jake explain how they first got involved with de-extinciton, how scientists propose to bring species back, and discuss the potential for de-extinction technology to help restore damaged ecosystems.  While discussing some potential side effects of this new process, Hank and Jake recall how a man obsessed with William Shakespeare transformed the ecosystem of New England, and how de-extinction might do the same.

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