Weekly Science Picks

Science Sunday! My first since the death of Google Reader. Let’s dive straight in.

Viet Le, the scientific amasian, has a nice piece on genetically modified crops. Perhaps the time has come to have another debate on the issue of GMOs, too often dismissed out of hand.

An “Acceptable” GMO?

“So, this brings me back to my original question of what, if anything, would constitute an “acceptable” GMO to opponents of genetic engineering? Would detractors object to a scenario where an already existing mutation* that confers resistance to an agricultural pest is engineered into other soybean plants. Directly transferring the existent Forrest SHMT variant would be more efficient over traditional methods of breeding, since only the Forrest SHMT gene would be introduced into another soybean plant without carrying over any unwanted traits or genes. There are, after all, many different cultivars of soybean plants used for different applications that may benefit from nematode resistance.”



There are far too few scientists out there that see advocacy and public outreach as part of their day job. For those like Peter Hotez, science is more than what goes on at the bench — it happens everywhere from the school hallways to the corridors of power.

Where Are the Scientist-Advocates and Civic-Scientists?

“We scientists need to change our culture to make public advocacy and science policy essential activities that will be increasingly needed in order to preserve the integrity of American biomedical science. Medical and public health schools need to partner with U.S. schools of public affairs and policy or schools of communications, many of which are located on the same or adjacent campuses. We need to look to the major think tanks for new and innovative programs of science advocacy and policy. We need to establish new career paths that contribute to science policy.”



Scientific American seems to be an unending fount of information for science writers. Promoting those that are just starting out and providing an invaluable resource.

How to break into science writing using your blog and social media (#sci4hels)

“Today, all one needs is some source of electricity (e.g., a small battery in your smartphone) and some means of accessing the Internet. The act of publishing is reduced to clicking on the “Publish” button. Yes, this still leaves some people out of the media, especially in the developing countries, but compared to just twenty years ago, vastly larger numbers of people now have access to the means of production of news. The obstacles to access – money, technical skills for running the machinery – are now much, much lower, almost free.”

There you have it. Another small collection of science-y links perfect for a sunday. Until next time…

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