Conversations with the doers and thinkers at the forefront of biotech and materials science.

Talking Biotech

With Dr. Kevin Folta · 1,500,000+ listens

Talking Biotech is a weekly podcast that uncovers the stories, ideas and research of people at the frontier of biology and engineering. Each episode explores how science and technology will transform agriculture, protect the environment, and feed 10 billion people by 2050. Interviews are led by Dr. Kevin Folta, professor of the horticultural sciences department at the University of Florida.

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episode 380

Stopping Long-Term Disease by Arresting Aging - Dr. Eric Morgen

Aging is a normal developmental program that involves discrete expression of specific genes leading to particular physiological changes.

episode 379

The Risks of Manufactured Viruses - Dr. Kevin Esvelt

Can biotechnology be used in malevolent ways? The simple and inexpensive ways to generate genetic material make creating viruses easier than ever.

episode 378

Biotech Fetal Diagnostics - Daniel Weisman

How is biotechnology used to make predictions about fetal health conditions? Modern techniques can analyze DNA without invasive sampling, and a lot may be learned about fetal health from a mother's blood test.

episode 377

Brexit May Bring Gene Editing to the UK- Cameron English

Brexit saw the UK step away from the European Union, with many economics and social repercussions. However, this change also brings scientific benefit, as the UK no longer has to function under the EU's regressive scientific regulatory hand.

episode 376

Releasing the Biotech Blight Resistant Chestnut - Erik Carlson

The American chestnut was a dominant tree in many of the forests of the eastern United States. In the early 20th century an imported fungus spread quickly through the population, destroying trees across the range.

episode 375

New Cancer Drugs: Breaking the Cell Cycle -- Spiro Rombotis

The cell cycle is a coordinated series of steps that cells follow during replication. Defects in cancer cells target or override these chemical constraints in proliferation.

episode 374

374 Bioengineering Yeast for Better Beer - Dr. Charles Denby

Beer is a beverage derived from the interplay of chemistry within hops and grains, fermented by brewer's yeast.

episode 373

Genes Controlling Plant Size

Plant stature is a surprisingly important trait. Growing short has its advantages, so understanding the genetic controls is important.

episode 372

As Gods: A Moral History of the Genetic Age - Matthew Cobb

Just because we can, does it mean that we should? Technology is developing so fast and enables so many new opportunities, but is there reason to occasionally pause and consider broader implications? Prof.

episode 371

The Genomes of Parasites - Dr. Jessie Kissinger

Parasites are a massive threat to human and animal health, underlying a significant number of important diseases.

episode 370

Cancer Misinformation - Dr. Skyler Johnson

As lifespan increases due to prevention and treatment of infectious disease and heart disorders, long-term issues like cancer become more prevalent.

episode 369

Livestock, Climate Change, and Attacks on a Scientist - Dr. Frank Mitloehner

Dr. Frank Mitloener is an expert in the contributions of livestock to climate change. He is a researcher that studies ways to mitigate the greenhouse gases from ruminant digestion, and a trusted expert in outreach to ensure the implementation of new strategies.

episode 368

A Gene-Edited Vaccine Against Malaria - Dr. Stefan Kappe

Malaria is a deadly, mosquito-vectored disease in areas of the Developing World. Intensive efforts have resulted in few effective prophylactic or therapeutic practices or products that are without serious limitations.

episode 367

Seralini's Lumpy Rats - Ten Years Later

Ten years ago a scientific paper claimed definitive evidence linking genetic engineering to tumors. The study by Giles-Eric Seralini and his team at CRIIGEN stunned the world, and it was amplified through social and traditional media.

episode 366

New Therapeutics for Novel Problems through Collaboration - Dr. Betsy O'neill

How can collaboration bring new technology to those that need it, faster? Dr. Linda O'Neill, VP of External Innovation at Horizon Therapeutics describes how strategic partnerships can speed the development and deployment of new therapeutics, particularly for autoimmune disorders and potential treatments for rare disease.

episode 365

The Long COVID HERV Connection - Dr. Claudia Matteucci

Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) are ancient viruses found in our genomes, remnants of long-past infections.

episode 364

Purple Tomatoes and Health - Dr. Cathie Martin

The purple compounds in fruits and vegetables associate with the perception of health and flavor. Prof.

episode 363

Rapid Detection of Sexually Transmitted Infections with Microfluidics - Dr. Anna Dixon

Sexually transmitted infections, once thought to be low frequency events, are staging a comeback. Dr.

episode 362

The Gut-Brain Axis: What it is, associated problems and new therapies. Nancy Thornberry

Research is showing a more intimate association between the digestive system and the brain, a bi-directional sensing and signaling network that directs digestive physiology.

episode 361

Precision Insect Control with Gene Editing

Insects inflict tremendous human casualty and massive losses in agriculture. For more than half a century Sterile Insect Technique has been implemented to crash invasive or dangerous populations by damaging insect genetics and releasing them into target populations.

episode 360

Update on Animal Gene Editing

Amazing innovations in animal gene editing have the promise to streamline agriculture, with benefits for agricultural producers, consumers and the environment.

episode 359

Creating Targeted Antibodies in Single Cells

Antibodies are one line of adaptive immune response, responding to new antigens that may represent threats.

episode 358

Extending Health and Life, Starting with Dogs

Dogs are an excellent model to study the genetics and mechanisms of aging. Loyal CEO Celine Halioua describes how genetic variation between breeds leads to specific effects on lifespan and "healthspan", and how new therapeutics might enrich and extend their lives.

episode 357

Optimizing Animal Microbiomes

The microbiome is a population of bacteria, fungi, protists and viruses that inhabit a specific environment.

episode 356

Glyphosate in Breast Milk? Eco-Modernism

This episode has two parts. In the first part lactation specialist Dr. Shelley McGuire discusses the new paper that claims to have found glyphosate in breast milk.

episode 355

Stool-Based Detection of Colon Cancer

Colorectal cancer is one of the most deadly cancers in the industrialized world. However, dangerous malignancies occur after multiple committed genetic steps at the cellular level that happen over years.

episode 354

Microalgae: Factories for Improved Polymers

Modern life has benefitted from the development of polymers that can be fashioned into everything from car parts, to children's toys, to medical devices.

episode 353

CAR-T Therapies to Reverse Cardiac Fibrosis

Injury to heart tissue results in non-functional scar tissue that compromises cardiac function. A new approach combines targeted lipid nanoparicles and mRNAs to reprogram immune cells to seek and destroy the pathogenic fibroblasts that limit heart function.

episode 352

352 - Prions and Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic wasting disease is an increasingly common prion-based disease of deer and other cervids. Dr. Sandra Pritzkow describes the disease, it's transmission, and efforts to mitigate its spread.

episode 351

351 - Biotech, Pesticides, Toxicology and Food

There is abundant conversation about pesticides and food, especially in social media. Unfortunately, there is little understanding about regulation, dosage, tolerances and toxicity.

episode 350

Methylation of DNA, Relationship to Disease

Methylation is the addition of a small methyl group to specific bases of the DNA helix. Addition of a methyl group can change how the DNA blueprint is accessed and expressed.

episode 349

Addressing the Issue of Scientific Reproducibility

Trust in science is predicated on independent reproducibility of research results. Perceived breakdowns in reproducibility have gained much recent attention, and it is up to the scientific community to devise new mechanisms to help ensure methods and results are complete and transparent.

episode 348

The Human Protein Atlas

Proteins are the central catalytic and structural components of cells, and ultimately are at the center of cellular function.

episode 347

New Drugs that Repair Broken Genes

Many diseases do not have cures, yet have a foundation in deleterious genomic mutations. Dietrich Stephan of NewBase describes a novel custom drug design platform that shows amazing potential in animal models, and seeks to directly reverse currently untreatable disease.

episode 346

An Owner's Manual for Your Brain

In the age of an internet full of false information, how do we tell the real from the fictitious? Jon Guy introduces his new book, Thinking Straight- an owner's manual to the mind.

episode 345

Update on Self-Limiting Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are the world's most deadly insect, vectoring dozens of bloodborne diseases. Oxitec has been revising "sterile insect" techniques classically used in mosquito control with modern technologies that are more precise.

episode 344

New Drugs Targeting Dangerous Cholesterol

Specific modifications of cholesterol appear to be central in heart disease, stroke and other disorders.

episode 343

Breeding the Next Amazing Apple

Apples are a fruit favorite. What are modern breeders doing to create the next generation of superior fruits, that offer flavors for consumers and sustainability traits for farmers? Dr.

episode 342

Biological Plasticity, Bioelectricity, and Limb Regeneration

Dr. Michael Levin of Tufts University discusses his laboratory's eclectic research programs that may be changing the way we think about animal development.

episode 341

Consumer Sentiment and Gene Editing

Scientists say that gene editing will have profound positive impacts in medicine and agriculture. But what do consumers think? Today's Talking Biotech Podcast talks to agricultural economist Dr.

episode 340

Stopping Bleeding with Algal-Based Polymers

Catastrophic bleeding is a cause of death after a wide variety of wounds in humans and other animals.

episode 339

Fungal Toxins in Food

Mother Nature has created some of the world's most carcinogenic compounds. These natural fungal products are present on many commodity crops, and have profound impacts in the developing nations.

episode 338

Plastics and Fuels from Camelina

Camelina is a mustard-family plant that may be genetically engineered to create a wide variety of important products, from plastics to jet fuel.

episode 337

Endogenous Retroviruses and Disease, Dr. Arvinda Nath

Our genomes carry a massive amount of integrated viral DNA from infections in our ancestors. New evidence shows that they may be reactivated and drive cancer and neurological disorders.

episode 336

Evaluating Scientific Claims - Melanie Trecek-King

The world's information is available to us at our fingertips. How do we recognize good sources and evaluate scientific claims? Melanie Trecek-King describes her tool kit for critical thinking.

episode 335

Resetting the Table with Dr. Robert Paarlberg

Dr. Robert Paarlberg discusses his book, "Resetting the Table - Straight Talk About the Food We Grow and Eat".

episode 334

Biotech and Tick Vectored Disease

Ticks are important disease vectors, spreading Lyme Disease and other human pathogens. New technology permits improved functional genetic research as well as creates a basis for genetic engineering strategies to limit populations or control disease vectoring.

episode 333

Plant Viruses / X Files Science

Dr. Anne Simon describes viral threats to plant biology, and discusses how scientists have harnessed viruses to solve problems in agriculture.

episode 332

New Therapies for HERV-Based Disease

Expression from Human Endogenous Retroviruses (HERVs) has been liked to Multiple Sclerosis and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and other neurological diseases.

episode 331

Talking Biotech Podcast Changes and Future

New sponsorship will improve the listener experience. Here are some of the changes you'll see with this opportunity.

episode 330

Avocado Genetics and Improvement

The avocado is a nutritious and delicious fruit. Today's episode discusses its history, domestication, breeding priorities and future.

episode 329

Hollywood and the Percy Schmeiser Story

The story of Percy Schmeiser is a well known tale of big biotech against the little farmer from rural Saskatchewan.

episode 328

The Importance of Telling Ag’s Story

One of the criticisms of farmers is that they fail to engage the public to show what they do. It is understandable, their days are busy, competition is stiff, and farming selects for folks that shun the spotlight.

episode 327

Attacking Disease by Targeting Proteins

Many diseases are rooted in the incorrect accumulation of proteins that regulate key cellular processes.

episode 326

Update on Transgenic (“GMO”) Chestnut

The American Chestnut used to dominate Appalachian forests, but declined after a fungal disease was introduced to North America in the early 1900’s.

episode 325

Is Biotechnology Just New Colonialism?

Two unusually parallel articles emerged this week, both claiming that modern ag technology (as they say, “GMO”) is just another arm of colonial control of the Developing World.

episode 324

Wine Flavor: Merging Grape and Yeast Genomes

Wine is a fermented beverage that has been enjoyed for millennia. While many may feel that the grapes used produce the flavors in the wine, a substantial contribution comes from the yeast and specialized bacteria that performs feats of biochemistry on the components lent by the grape itself.

episode 323

Cindy’s Gift to End Glioblastoma

At the early age of 47 Cindy Lee Graham lost her battle with glioblastoma. Glioblastoma is an insidious cancer of the brain and central nervous system that slowly robs its victims of critical faculties, with a very low survival rate.

episode 322

Gender Equity in the Pharmaceutical Industry

The executive ranks of the pharmaceutical industry are populated with a clear over representation of older males.

episode 321

The Challenges of Growing Plants in Space

Sustained space travel and colonization will depend on the ability to grow food in extra-terrestrial environments.

episode 320

Tiredness: Time for DNA Repair!

We all know the feeling of tiredness, but what causes the urge to sleep?  Prof. Lior Appelbaum discusses the link between sleepiness and DNA damage, as sensed through the accumulation of a protein known as PARP1.

episode 319

Reprogramming T-Cells for Immunotherapies

T Cells are the body’snatural defenders against pathogens. In the past they have been reprogrammed to recognize specific surface antigens of cancer cells to attack and destroy them.

episode 318

Breeding Future Olives

Olives have a prominent role in the production of aromatic healthy culinary oils and brined olives for the table.

episode 317

Insulin from Synthetic Biology

Thirty million Americans depend on daily doses of insulin to stay alive. This small protein hormone is responsible for the regulation of blood sugar, and plays a key role in all aspects of physiology, as well as long-term effects on health.

episode 316

What We Can Learn from Ancient DNA

How can analysis of DNA isolated from old, preserved organisms, bones, or tissues tell us about life today?  Dr.

episode 315

Integrated Molecular Strategies in Combating Disease

New strategies in gene therapy are integrating multiple modern techniques to take on contemporary challenging diseases, such as solid-tumor cancers.

episode 314

Genetic Counseling in the Biotech Era

Genetic counselors play a critical role from pre-natal guidance to lifelong expertise in managing genetically-based disorders.

episode 313

Rediscovery of New Cancer Drugs

Drug pipelines are thick with novel compounds that may have an effect on our most insidious diseases.

episode 312

Evidence that Modern Birds are Dinosaurs

The classical assumption was that the modern dinosaur lineage led directly to today’s reptiles. However, a growing suite of evidence has shown that modern birds more closely emulate prehistoric creatures.

episode 311

Debunking Jeffrey Smith

We must be dedicated to fighting back against false information in food and medicine. Jeffery Smith is a personality with no scientific training that has used disinformation to taint an important public discussion on biotechnology for over 25 years.

episode 310

Influencing a Conversation with a #ScienceHug

In this week of technical failures and personal challenges, this week’s podcast investigates the merits of civil conversation.

episode 309

Relax and Enjoy Your Food

There is no such thing as bad food, it is just bad diets, so says Craig Good. Various life events caused him to rethink his relationship with food, and a keen skepticism led him to carefully evaluate the mistakes we make, the myths we accept, and the potential reasons we have an epidemic of diet-related illness and an internet packed with fad diets.

episode 308

Misinformation and GMOs

How does misinformation about genetically engineered crops (GMOs) start and how do we correct it?  These are questions asked by Prof.

episode 307

Glyphosate Residues and Dietary Exposure

The herbicide glyphosate has been used for decades, with increased use paralleling the adoption of genetically engineered crops.

episode 306

Florida’s COVID Response / Long COVID

Today’s podcast features two interviews about COVID19. The first is an interview with Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried.

episode 305

Early Cancer Detection with Liquid Biopsy

Many cancers are much more curable if detected early. However, the current suite of detection methods are slow, expensive and can’t detect a problem until it is advanced.

episode 304

Last Minute Guests!

Yay for gremlins!  Technical difficulties precluded the planned podcast, but that didn’t stop two good interviews from materializing a the last minute.

episode 303

Activating Suites of Plant Genes with Cas9

The role of Cas9 as an editing/deletion nuclease has been well established, but can it be used to turn genes on?   Dr.

episode 302

COVID19 Detection in Masks and Wearables

COVID19 is the spectrum of pathologies caused by the SARS-CoV2 virus. While the pandemic moves well into its second year, the importance of detection in populations cannot be overstated.

episode 301

Virus Resistant Cassava in Kenya

Cassava is a staple for one in ten people on earth, grown mostly by small famers tending a few acres.

episode 300

The Battle to Teach Science

Episode 300 is guest-hosted by Ally Kennedy. She interviews Dr. Kevin Folta about the obstacles to communicating science over the last decade.

episode 299

Revisiting Huber’s Claims

He jet-sets around the planet and writes letters to government officials, brandishing academic and military credentials.

episode 298

Good Science Information vs Disinformation Feedback Loops

The Genetic Literacy Project is a popular science news website. A diverse set of articles and viewpoints are presented, with original articles and news aggregated from the internet.

episode 297

Smart People, Bad Food Choices

Jack Bobo has been studying food, farming and the associated psychology for decades, asking questions about the choices people make around food.

episode 296

Turning Plastic Waste Into Vanilla

We have two major problems. Vanilla is mostly produced in a narrow set of unstable economies and the supply chains are especially vulnerable.

episode 295

Evidence of Widespread Gene Transfer

Analysis of massive genomic DNA sequence data indicates that gene transfer between similar species actually happened, and did so at a surprising rate.

episode 294

Widespread GMOs in Nature

One of the major objections to genetic engineering is that a DNA segment is transferred to the crop, and lands in a somewhat random location.

episode 293

Debunking the Disinformation Dozen

Dr. Dan Wilson is a rising star of science communication. His popular YouTube channel Debunk the Funk provides entertaining and evidence-based dissection of issues around science, vaccination and COVID19.

episode 292

Peptoids as Therapeutic Tools

Peptides have increasingly emerging roles in cellular signaling and anti-microbial applications. Peptioids are cousins of their active peptide analogs, only  synthesized with a durable bond that helps the molecule evade cellular turnover mechanisms.

episode 291

Kleptoplasty and a Solar-Powered Animal

A solar-powered animal?  There are species of sea slugs that consume algae, then integrate the chloroplasts into their own digestive cells.

episode 290

Methylation Clocks, Aging and Disease

The basis of aging and long-term degenerative disease have been formidable questions for scientists. Over the last decade several “methylation clocks” have been devised to examine modifications of DNA that match well with developmental state and disease presentation.

episode 289

The GalSafe Pig and Xenotransplantation

Last week’s episode covered Alpha Gal Syndrome, the tick-induced allergy to beef and pork. The same immunological response could also limit a recipient’s access to xenography or xenotransplantation, that is, the introduction of pig and cow tissues and organs for human benefit.

episode 288

Alpha Gal Syndrome

You find a tick on your skin and remove it. The next day you eat a sausage and wind up in the emergency room in anaphylaxis.

episode 287

Bioluminescence, Antibiotic Resistance, and Science Communication

Today’s podcast is an interview with New Zealander of the Year Dr. Siouxsie Wiles. Dr. Wiles’ program uses bioluminesence as a marker to follow bacterial growth and disease progression.

episode 286

Identifying Rare Compounds with A.I.

While genomics approaches have opened a universe of new compounds in plants, the vast majority remain uncharacterized.

episode 285

Your DNA Sequence, Benefits and Risks

Your DNA contains all of the information that makes you, you. With increasing understanding of the genetic basis of disease, the information in every cell may help anticipate, correct, or otherwise treat latent medical issues.

episode 284

Combating Vaccine Hesitancy

The COVID19 vaccines were produced in record time, an amazing feat. However, additional challenges have been revealed in their distribution.

episode 283

Misinformation vs. An Honest Conversation

This week’s podcast is a dissection of another popular podcast that features self-proclaimed experts in genetic engineering (familiarly GMO), and the falsehoods they propagate.

episode 282

An App to Identify On-Target Gene Editing Variation

At its core, gene editing works to break gene function by creating errors in a DNA sequence at a specific location.

episode 281

COVID19 Testing and Personal Cancer Screenings

One of the major failures of addressing the COVID19 pandemic is the breakdown of testing. The NFL and White House were able to  maintain business as usual because of daily, accurate testing.

episode 280

Greenpeace Beginnings, and Golden Rice

Dr. Patrick Moore was a founding member of Greenpeace. In the years past its inception he worked tirelessly on ecological issues.

episode 279

New Technology to Save Bananas

Bananas and other tropical crops have tremendous value, not just to farmers in the Developing World, but also as products that are enjoyed widely in highly industrialized nations.

episode 278

Gene Editing and Recovery from Radiation

Radiation is a natural energy that constantly bombards us. At the same time we have harnessed its power for medical imaging, therapeutics, energy and warfare.

episode 277

SARS-CoV2: Immune Response and RNA Vaccines

The story of biotechnology’s response to the pandemic is an amazing one, and we continue coverage of these events as they arise.

episode 276

Amazing Products from Algae

Algae efficiently convert carbon dioxide into oils, and they are now being bred to generate a suite of compounds that may be synthesized into fuel and polymers that are the basis of biodegradable plastics.

episode 275

Targeting Cancers with Gene Editing

Certain aggressive cancers have profound effects on lifespan and quality of life. Patient prognosis can be grim, and therapies are harsh.

episode 274

GE Crops: What do Consumers Really Think?

Consumers have many opinions about food, and are continually bombarded by information from manufacturers to self-proclaimed experts.

episode 273

2020 Science Stories

The COVID-19 pandemic overshadowed an incredible year of innovation in biotechnology. Today’s podcast is a simulcast between the Science Facts and Fallacies with Cameron English and Talking Biotech.

episode 272

Immune Response to COVID19 and its Vaccines

The COVID19 vaccines have the potential to squelch a dangerous pandemic. However, the public has many questions about their safety and efficacy that could limit their broad administration.

episode 271

mRNA Vaccine Mechanism, Safety, Communication

Two mRNA vaccines have been approved to lead the fight against COVID19. Both have been rapidly approved with Emergency Use Authorization, which does not build public trust.

episode 270

Apple Domestication and Variation

Apples seem rather ubiqutous, but what we see in the stores are just a sample of the genetic diversity that is out there.

episode 269

The Ag Innovation Ecosystem

Despite its essential role in the economy and food security, agriculture has lagged behind with respect to adoption of new technology.

episode 268

What is an mRNA Vaccine?

mRNA vaccines have recently been in the news as an exciting potential preventative of SARS-CoV2. The technology seems new, but has roots in the 1990’s and a long history of maturation, plagued by technical barriers and skepticism.

episode 267

Genetic Engineering in Animal Agriculture

Technology is driving innovation on the farm, and there have been significant efforts in improving livestock.

episode 266

Gene Writing: New Tech to Correct Disease

Gene editing is a relatively new technology that has revolutionary applications in agriculture and medicine.

episode 265

Onion Domestication and Improvement

The onion has tremendous value in culinary applications all over the world. Where did it come from?  What are the major breeding efforts and the important traits.

episode 264

What are Pumpkins?

On Halloween it is hard to remember that the pumpkins used for decoration are actually an important food for indigenous people of the Americas.

episode 263

The Ethics of Gene Editing

Gene editing moved quickly from the lab to application, so fast that the public is unsure how to think about it.

episode 262

New Technology Same GMOs : My Commentary

This week two scientists pioneering gene editing won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Days later, a group of perennial naysayers gathered to denounce the technology.

episode 261

Vaccines Against Digestive Cancers

Digestive cancers are among the most common and deadly cancers in the world, comprising metastases of the colon, esophagus, stomach and rectum.

episode 260

Communicating Ag in an Attention Economy

Dr. Cami Ryan has examined the social factors that underlie decisions. Today these human tendencies are critical to understand, as everyone is bombarded by information through social media.

episode 259

Drug Targets for HIV

The human immunodeficiency virus remains prevalent in the population, yet it as silently moved out of the public’s consciousness, overshadowed by COVID19 and drug cocktails that can control its progression.

episode 258

Rapid Detection of Bloodborne Pathogens

Sepsis is an infection of the blood. It can be critical and life threatening, and can complicate other co-morbidities.

episode 257

Plants Engineered to Remove Indoor Air Toxins

Indoor air contains a variety of harmful compounds. We invite many of these compounds into our homes in electronics, and others occur spontaneously from our water supply, and as homes become more energy efficient and dependent on air conditioning, these chemicals concentrate in our homes.

episode 256

Communicating COVID19; Careful with Cancellation

This week’s guest is the host!  It was important to discuss communication tips during a pandemic, especially around popular myths and news stories involving COVID19.

episode 255

GE Mosquito Release in Florida

Florida is the canary in the coalmine for mosquito-transmitted disease in the USA. The Florida Keys are especially vulnerable.

episode 254

Penguin Genomics and Adaptation

Penguins are charismatic, flightless, diving birds. While typically associated only with Antarctica, their center of origin, radiation and speciation has been widely debated.

episode 253

The Race to the COVID19 mRNA Vaccine

Most experts agree that the COVID19 pandemic will not end until a vaccine is available. But traditionally, vaccines take a decade to develop and test.

episode 252

Prions: Infectious Proteins

A number of strange, devastating and lethal diseases are caused by prions. The most famous of these disorders in animals is Bovine Spongiform Encelapathy,  or “Mad Cow Disease”.

episode 251

The Bull that (probably) Sires Mostly Bulls

Male cattle (bulls) convert feed calories to weight gain more efficiently than females (cows). If more bulls could be put into beef production, the process would be even more sustainable.

episode 250

The Unfortunate Casualties of an Anti-Biotech Attack

In 2001 the Earth Liberation Front bombed the office of Dr. Toby Bradshaw at the University of Washington.

episode 249

Circadian Clocks

Most organisms on earth evolved under constant intervals of light and darkness. The regular intervals led to the evolution of internal clocks that are trained by the light/dark patterns, and condition responses from gene expression to higher physiology and morphology.

episode 248

DNA Demystified

Dr. Alan McHughen has been a leader in biotechnology education for decades, and has served in public academic research as well as an advisor to the State Department in the Obama Administration.

episode 247

A Science-Based Glyphosate Documentary

The documentary space is littered with videos that misrepresent science, especially around agriculture.

episode 246

Gene Editing in Species Conservation

Analysis of populations of animals can be problematic, especially when individuals of different species share similar visual characteristics.

episode 245

COVID19 Update — What is Circular Health?

Dr. Ilaria Capua is one of the world’s most prominent virologists, and a Professor at the University of Florida and the Director of the One Health Center of Excellence.

episode 244

The Dawn of Plant Genetic Engineering

Today’s podcast marks five complete years of podcast episodes, and there’s no better guest than someone on the Mount Rushmore of plant genetic engineering.

episode 243

What is Aflatoxin? What is Aflasafe?

Aflatoxin is a natural poison emitted by several species of fungi. They infect grain, and exploit insect damage.

episode 242

The Klamath Basin Water Crisis; Your Questions Answered

Today’s podcast starts with answering your questions, covering biodynamic farming, cover crops and my financial transparency.

episode 241

Inside Monsanto; Communication in Science and Agriculture

Crowe has a background that shifted between the Peace Corps in Kenya, a deckhand on an ecotourism ship, and a position with the World Bank.

episode 240

COVID19: Do Masks Matter?

Throughout the COVID19 pandemic we have heard various opinions about wearing face coverings and protective masks.

episode 239

Pandemic Cuisine: COVID19 and Food Trends

Leah McGrath is a Registered Dietitian with a great presence in social media. She is the corporate dietitian for a major grocery chain, and has had an important role in shaping the messaging around the multitude of food issues.

episode 238

COVID19 Epidemiology Trends

From the dawn of the pandemic there  has been a notable rise in false information that clouds public perception and harms trust in scientific guidance.

episode 237

The Vaccine Manhattan Project

The wartime response of the Manhattan Project streamlined production of weapons to revolve World War II.

episode 236

Molecular Studies in Weed Science

Weeds are a tremendous problem in agriculture, costing farmers billions a year in crop loss and the cost of control.

episode 235

Cattle Domestication

Cattle are currently used for meat, milk, hide products and as work animals. Where did they come from?  Who are the wild relatives?  Dr.

episode 234

Stewardship of Biotechnology Crops in Africa.

Western Africa holds many nations of substantial population and an emerging economies. The nation has recently approved the use of the Bt cowpea to farm without applied insecticide, and with the new technology comes the need to ensure that it is used correctly.

episode 233

Apples to Oranges: Abuse of Meta Analysis

The meta-analysis is traditionally considered to be a high synthesis of extant scientific literature.

episode 232

Special Topics in COVID19

In this special edition of the Talking Bitotech Podcast Dr. Kevin Folta covers recent topics in COVID19.

episode 231

The Molecular and Cellular Basis of Grafting

Grafting is an age-old practice of connecting a set of roots to an aerial portion of a separate plant.

episode 230

A Deeper Dive into COVID-19

As of 3/11/2020 COVID-19 is emerging as a significant health threat worldwide. This pandemic is on the rise, and public health suffers from politicized spin, misinformation, and a lack of good information.

episode 229

A Universal Flu Vaccine

Seasonal influenza causes thousands of deaths annually. Part of the problem is that the vaccine must be administered annually because the virus presents different immunological faces to avoid detection.

episode 228

Improved Oils from Plants with GE

Plants produce a variety of oils, many that are critical to the human diet. The precise chemical qualities of plant oils dictate its stability, use, nutrient quality, or even its use as fuel.

episode 227


The gene editing explosion has accelerated discovery, food and therapies by defining a new toolbox of useful ways to manipulate DNA.

episode 226

Remembering Dr. Chad Finn; Intro to the Global Gene Editing Tracker

In the first part of today’s podcast Dr. Kayleen Schreiber and Jon Entine discuss the latest addition to the Genetic Literacy Project, a website called the Global Gene Editing Regulation Tracker.

episode 225

Fake News Survivor, and Coronavirus Update

Dr. Ilaria Capua is an internationally recognized virologist, and a world expert in avian influenza and other animal viruses.

episode 224

Opportunities with American Society of Plant Biologists

The American Society of Plant Biologists is the largest professional society for plant biologists. Dr.

episode 223

Women in Genomics

Like many areas of science, the early days of genomics quickly became a male-dominated discipline. While more women were earning advanced degrees and training in this area, fewer were finding a place in faculty and other leadership positions.

episode 222

Cassava Innovation in Africa

Cassava is a staple food crop in Africa and Asia, yet is widely unknown by the industrialized world. While almost a billion people depend on this crop, production is limited by a series of diseases, and it also lacks critical nutrients that could help reverse local deficiencies.

episode 221

Talking Biotech Hiatus

I’ve dreaded this day. I have not missed a Saturday in a long time, but after told to end the series by my institution I have not been able to find someone that can do the work to host the podcast on a weekly basis.

episode 220

Biotech Cotton Comes to Kenya

Kenya is an emerging economy and has significant investment in advanced technologies. However, a 2013 ban on biotech crops has limited farmer access to the most needed technologies for the field.

episode 219

International Biotechnology, Policy and Future

Dr. Stuart Smyth is no stranger to anyone that has watched social media. As a leading ag economist he has consistently represented science and technology fairly and accurately, and tethered to his prolific publication of books and scholarly publication, he is a visible influencer in scientific and social media circles.

episode 218

An Engineered Cowpea for Africa

The cowpea is a high-protein food staple in parts of Africa, particularly in the growing countries of Nigeria, Niger, and Burkina-Fasso.

episode 217

Precision Medicine

There is a massive amount of human genomic DNA sequence data, and it is now possible to identify correlates with specific disease, drug sensitivity and physiological variation.

episode 216

Bacteria Fixing Nitrogen in Plants

Nitrogen is essential for crop growth. That reality has led to intensive crop fertilization using nitrogen fixed through the Haber-Bosch process, which has energy costs in production and transport.

episode 215

The GE Crop Ban in South Australia

While the country of Australia has been growing genetically-engineered crops for over 15 years, the state of South Australia has banned their use.

episode 214

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

The genomics era has generated tremendous data sets, yet the information they reveal is limited by the human biases that search them.

episode 213

Egg Production and GE Ethics

There is an unfortunate side to egg production. Only female chickens produce eggs, so layers are selected at hatching.

episode 212

Food Bullying

Michele Payn is a much sought after speaker, author and podcast host. She has introduced the third book in her trilogy, this one about the phenomenon of others taking issue with someone’s food choices.

episode 211

CAR-T Cells: Engineered to Attack Cancer

Can we use genetic engineering to help the body’s immune system target cancer cells?  This is exactly what happens with CAR-T (chimeric antigen receptor) T-cell therapy.

episode 210

Impossible Burgers and Biotechnology

The Impossible Burger is meat alternative that gets its meat-like qualities from a combination of plant-based ingredients, plus “meatiness” from a biotech-derived product.

episode 209

Edible Cotton Seed

Cotton production is massive, but mostly used for fiber. The cotton seed is a tremendous potential resource as it contains high amounts of oil and high-quality protein.

episode 208

Farm Aid: Anti Biotech and Farmer Choice?

The Farm Babe Michelle Miller is a farmer, speaker, columnist and blogger that advocates for agricultural producers, and seeks to better connect consumers to agricultural reality.

episode 207

Engineered Microbes to Fix Nitrogen

Nitrogen is a reality of growing plants, and must be supplied to maximize crop yields. At the same time our atmosphere is >70% nitrogen that is not usable by plants in its atmospheric form.

episode 206

The Ugly Politics of Glyphosate Litigation

Dr. David Zaruk has become the foremost authority on the questionable practices within the IARC and their decision-making process.

episode 205

Mosquito Biotech Solutions – Getting the Story Straight

The tiny mosquito is a nuisance in the industrialized world, yet around the world it is a ruthless killer, spreading blood-borne diseases that bring about pain and suffering, particularly in developing nations.

episode 204

Plagiarism and Image Manipulation in Scientific Pubilcation

Dr. Elisabeth Bik is a hero. Classically trained with plenty of lab-bench expertise, today she patrols the best scientific literature in search for plagiarism and image manipulation.

episode 203

An HIV Preventative in GE Rice

While HIV incidence has remained stable in the industrialized world, the virus is still transmitted in the Developing World.

episode 202

Supporting Farmer Choice in South Australia

Australia has welcomed the use of genetically engineered crops, and farmers have found particular benefit from broad acre canola and cotton cultivation.

episode 201

A Bioengineered Hangover Helper?

Genetically engineered microbes commonly manufacture our vitamins and amino acid supplements, but can they be supplements themselves?  Zbiotics has developed genetically engineered bacteria that may help to metabolize the residues of alcohol consumption, altering the accumulation of the compounds that lead to next-day malaise.

episode 200

Food 5.0 -How We Feed the Future

Robert Saik is an agronomist and entrepreneur with a lifetime of experience in farming. For years he has been a leading advocate for farmers, and a passionate voice promoting the newest technologies, whether they are genetic or engineering marvels on the farm.

episode 199

Gene Editing and Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle cell disease is an inherited condition that predominantly affects people of African descent. The disease results in chronic pain and early death, and is caused by a misfolding of oxygen-toting hemoglobin, a central protein in red blood cells.

episode 198

Nano Bar Codes and Product Fidelity

Products move from producer to consumer through complicated networks called supply chains. These routes of custody involve many people and organizations, and oftentimes cross international borders.

episode 197

Citrus Greening Disease Update

What is the current state of the devastating citrus greening disease, Huanglongbing (HLB). Dr. Jude Grosser from the University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center discusses the current state of the disease, the current therapies and the future possibilities of leveraging genetics and nutrition to help keep citrus in production.

episode 196

Immunotherapies Against HIV

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the causal agent of the spectrum of disorders known as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

episode 195

Bt Brinjal in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is a population dense country with relatively little farmland. Subsistence farmers make a living by growing, harvesting and selling brinjal, or the fruit westerners know as the eggplant.

episode 194

Countering Disinformation in Africa

The African continent is emerging in many ways, yet still is developing economically. Technology is a huge part of the African transformation, yet farmers there are often forbidden to use crop technologies that were developed for Africa, by African scientists and governments.

episode 193

Domesticating Bacteria for Industrial Production

Bacteria  surround us and have specialized functions in adaptation and metabolism. Could they be helpful as micro machines that catalyze key reactions?  Could teams of collaborating bacteria be combined to perform important industrial processes?  Dr.

episode 192

Curing PRRS with Gene Editing

Pork production worldwide is limited by a series of viral pig diseases that slow growth, cause illness and restrict reproduction.

episode 191

Indian Farmers Protest for Technology Access

While Indian farmers have realized benefits from GE cotton, food crops have been forbidden from this growing country.

episode 190

Glyphosate: The Murder of a Molecule

The war against agricultural biotechnology shifted in the last several years. Carefully constructed steps by those opposed to technology have managed to malign a relatively innocuous compound– the herbicide glyphosate.

episode 189

Dinosaurs, DNA and De-Extinction

The visions of Jurassic Park are an extrapolation of actual research being performed all over the world.

episode 188

The Future of Fruit and Vegetable Production

Technology is exploding in all areas of life, but sadly has been slow to reach agriculture. We are stuck in the rhythms of old unsustainable practices.

episode 187

African Biotechnology Update

There is sad irony that the African continent has the most potential benefit from crop biotechnology, yet has the least access to the technology.

episode 186

Blackberry Domestication and Breeding

Blackberries are a popular, healthy fruit with increasing availability to the consumer. Over the last century significant progress has been made in its genetic improvement.

episode 185

A Potential Cure for Citrus Greening Disease

Huanglongbing, or HLB, is the Chinese term for the Yellow Dragon Disease– usually referred to as Citrus Greening.

episode 184

Psychophysics, Smell and Taste / Women in Science

Dr. Linda Bartoshuk has been recognized as an expert on interactions between the smell, taste, psychology and the brain for many decades.

episode 183

Banned But Doing It Anyway!

I was very excited to be participating in the Southern Seed School here in Gainesville, FL. I had talks prepared on three cool topics– the history of the University of Florida plant breeding programs, plant breeding and genetic improvement, and new crops for Florida.

episode 182

Insect Resistant Cowpea in Africa

Cowpea is a critical crop in Western Africa. It is consumed by millions daily, but also feeds livestock, all the while providing important nitrogen fixation for the farm.

episode 181

A Synthetic Light Switch Increases Photosynthesis

One of the limiting factors in photosynthesis is the plant’s ability to take up carbon dioxide to assimilate into carbohydrates.

episode 180

Sleep: A Time for DNA Repair

Sleep remains a mystery to science, as it is a state where an organism is vulnerable to potentially deadly forces.

episode 179

Genetic Engineering and Healthier Soybean Oils

Soybeans are legumes that produce abundant oil. The oils have been popular for consumers and in food service, but they could have improved performance in cooking applications and also did not have the heart-healthy profiles of other plant-derived oils.

episode 178

A GE Salmon Comes to Market

The transgenic, fast-growing salmon was first developed in 1989. The goal was simple, use fish genes to remove seasonal growth effects, with the hopes of creating a fish that could grow faster.

episode 177

The Angry Chef- Food, Fat and Fads

Anthony Warner is known as The Angry Chef, achieving notoriety as a food-fad/social critic. He has roots in biochemistry and trained as a chef, with years of experience in a variety of cooking venues.

episode 176

Early Career Scientists – Research and Communication

Today’s graduate students understand that participation in science communication can significantly enhance a scientific career.

episode 175

Plants Engineered to Remediate Military Toxins

Military preparedness means testing ammunition and ordinates in controlled field trials, as well as decommissioning of obsolete weaponry.

episode 174

A Cancer Epidemiologist Discusses Glyphosate Claims

The report saturated the popular media, claims that the herbicide glyphosate increased cancer risk by 41%.

episode 173

Ethos Chocolate – Ingredients from GE Plants

In the days of fear-based food labeling the market has been screaming for a science-friendly alternative.

episode 172

The AAAS Glyphosate Award Controversy

This week the American Association for the Advancement of Science announced an award to two Sri Lankan researchers for their research showing that glyphosate was a “deadly herbicide” that was causing kidney disease in farmers.

episode 171

Bees Delivering Pesticides

The relationship between pollinators and crop protection strategies has always pitted them against each other, with concern about how insecticides and herbicides might affect charismatic non-target insects like bees.

episode 170

Genetically Engineered Animals- Regulated as Drugs

The new techniques in gene editing have made rapid, precise genetic changes possible in animals. Some of the greatest benefits are genetic resistance to disease, generation of less waste, and more rapid growth on the farm.

episode 169

What We Know vs. What We Think We Know

Researchers and communicators in biotechnology have experienced it for a long time– the people that oppose genetic engineering frequently know the least about it.

episode 168

Help Researchers Save Threatened Forests

Our forests are critical to ecology. They sequester carbon from human activity, and serve as great resources for renewable building materials, fuels and recreation.

episode 167

Engineering Indoor Air Cleaning Plants

Indoor air is filled with hazardous trace compounds that arise from flooring, furniture, and even showering.

episode 166

Two Critical Updates – Brinjals and Chestnuts

This week’s podcast features and update on two critical technologies– the Bt Brinjal (eggplant) in Bangladesh and the blight resistant American Chestnut.

episode 165

Evolution of Weed Resistance

Weed resistance is a complex problem with incredible ramifications for agricultural production. It also provides an outstanding opportunity to examine how resistance happens– is it continual development of new mutations, new mutations in the same genes, or is it simply spread of already resistant material? Genome sequencing and comparative genomics indicates that it is all of the above.

episode 164

Brockovich’s Deceptive Guardian Article

On December 6, 2018 environmental advocate Erin Brockovich published a high-profile opinion piece in The Guardian.

episode 163

Biotechnology Outreach and Extension

Dr. Thomas Zinnen has worked with the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Service for almost three decades.

episode 162

Thoughtful Questions from a Listener

Gary Nolan works in marketing, but enjoys science podcasts, including Talking Biotech. He also frequently blogs about politics, social trends, and science.

episode 161

Careers in Plant Breeding

Plant breeding is an important discipline, and the foundation of plant genetic improvements. While modern techniques like gene editing sometimes steal the spotlight, the foundational varieties must have outstanding performance before such amendments are remotely relevant.

episode 160

Conflict of Interest

The term “Conflict of Interest” is thrown around a lot these days, mostly to sully reputations or cast doubt on quality research.

episode 159

Supporting Farmers, Fighting “Non-GMO”

They are farmers. They also own A&C Liquid Assets, a liquor store in Hoxie, Kansas. Allison and Cole Nondorf saw the Smirnoff commercial where they proudly proclaim that they reject “GMO” seed technology, the same seeds that the Nondorf’s (and most of their community) use on their farms.

episode 158

A Look Into the Future of Technology

The future gets closer every day, and many argue that technology will radically change the world for the better in the next 20 years– if we have the courage to let it.

episode 157

Solving the Animal Feed Problem

What do we use to feed our food?  From cattle to fish, livestock require substantial inputs to thrive, and a substantial part of that is their feed.

episode 156

Mango Domestication and Diversity

The mango is an incredibly important fruit worldwide, yet little is known about its precise origins or domestication.

episode 155

Listener Questions; LaCroix Water Lawsuit

Today’s episode is where Kevin Folta answers common questions from listeners. In the second half, we discuss the recent lawsuit against LaCroix and the alleged insecticides used as ingredients.

episode 154

Nitrogen Fixing and Corn

Nitrogen is required for plant growth, and is a significant input in terms of cost and environmental impact.

episode 153

Thalidomide- Molecular Mechanism of Action

The drug thalidomide was developed with tremendous promise in managing a variety of disorders, such as anxiety and morning sickness.

episode 152

Vanilla Uses, Diversity and Improvement

There is a vanilla crisis. The familiar flavor agent is a mixture of chemicals from an orchid- and there’s not enough being produced to satisfy demand.

episode 151

Effectiviolgy – Sharpening Critical Thinking Skills

In framing effective discussions about any subject it is important to understand human psychology, and the mistakes we make in debate.

episode 150

Glyphosate Trends in Agriculture

The herbicide glyphosate has been in use for over 40 years. It is non-selective (kills all plants), it is inexpensive and has extremely low toxicity.

episode 149

Transparency vs. Confidentiality

This last week podcast host Kevin Folta found himself in a difficult predicament. There was palpable outrage by those affiliated with a science website where he participated in some of their activities.

episode 148

Malaria, Artemisia and Artemisinin

Malaria is a tremendous world health problem, affecting the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the developing (and industrialized) world.

episode 147

Chicken Domestication

The chicken is by far the most abundant animal farmed on earth, grown for meat and eggs. But where did it come from?  What kinds of birds were domesticated?  When?  Where?  What were the traits that came from wild jungle fowl that give us today’s familiar bird?  These questions and more are answered by Dr.

episode 146

Plant Disease Networks

Plant disease resistance is a complicated arms race between the plant and pathogens. Bacteria, viruses and fungi evolve in lock-step with plants, creating new ways to overcome new disease resistance strategies.

episode 145

Psychology, Consumers and Decisions

Dr. David Just studies human behavior and how psychology ties in with economic decisions. His work at Cornell examines the interesting overlays that cause consumers to behave how they do.

episode 144

Aflatoxin, Problems and Solutions

Alfatoxins are a significant threat to human health and world food security. They are naturally-occurring toxic compounds produced by the fungus Aspergillus flavus and other species.

episode 143

The Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potato in Africa

The 2016 World Food Prize went to a group that coordinated the breeding, promotion and distribution of the orange-fleshed sweet potato in Africa.

episode 142

Barley Domestication and Breeding

Barley is an important grain, with prominent roles as the foundation of bread and beer. Dr. Sheila Adimargono shares the interesting stories around barley’s history, the traits that early domesticators found useful, and information about its modern production.

episode 141

Russia’s GMO Disinformation Campaign

When social scientists examined messaging in new media around GE crops, a few trends became apparent.

episode 140

Seeds of Science

Mark Lynas believed in his heart that he was doing the right thing. He was joining others in tearing out field trials of GE crops, and effectively arrested research and development around crop biotechnology.

episode 139

Recognizing Dr. Rosalind Franklin

The race to determine the structure of DNA has a dark subtext that is frequently ignored when discussing this seminal discovery in biology.

episode 138

Maize, Mexico, and Transgene Flow

Mexico is the center of origin for maize, and there is a substantial interest in protecting the genetic integrity of this limited resource.

episode 137

Modern Wheat and Celiac Disease

The internet claims that the increases in celiac disease is rooted in modern wheat varieties, as human intervention in plant genetics must be the cause of human disorders.

episode 136

Food Labeling

Are food labels adding clarity or confusion?  Focus groups show that consumer sentiment toward food labels is changing.

episode 135

Engineering Plant Virus Resistance

Dr. Devang Mehta has been working in virus suppression in cassava, a key food staple in the Developing world.

episode 134

Biotech, Farming and the Developing World

Those that live in the affluent countries of the West have little clue of the challenges of farming in the Developing World.

episode 133

An Extension Agronomist’s View of GE Crops

The Extension arm of the Land Grant University system provides a link between university research and the farm.

episode 132

Indian Suicides and Farmer Debt

The problem of farmer suicides in India is very real, and has been for some time. Suicides are driven by indebtedness, and there are many reasons that farmers find themselves in financially challenging times.

episode 131

Engineering Functional Foods for Human Health

Dr. Monica Schmidt from the University of Arizona has an interest in using technology to make foods that are better for people.

episode 130

Transgenic Plants and Industrial Protein Production

Many important enzymes, industrial and therapeutic proteins are manufactured using transgenic plants.

episode 129

Rice Domestication and Diversity

Rice is a world food staple with an incredible story. Dr. Susan McCouch from Cornell University has been studying rice genetics for decades, and directs efforts in rice education in conjunction with the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines.

episode 128

Insect Gene Drives (Part 2)

Dr. Jennifer Kuzma received her training in biochemistry, and then later found herself working in social sciences.

episode 127

Insect Gene Drives (Part 1)

Gene drives are a powerful technology that may be used to control pests. The concepts key off of exploiting genetic vulnerabilities that are rapidly inherited, and cause populations to crash over a short time.

episode 126

Pandora’s Picnic Basket; Talking to the Public

Over the long history of biotech crops and microorganisms Dr. Alan McHughen has been part of the conversation.

episode 125

USAID, Political Stability and Food Security

Dr. Angela Records joins Chris Barbey to discuss the mission of USAID. USAID is committed to remedies in world food insecurity, with an emphasis on examining current opportunities and meshing new technology and crop biology with the most benficial impacts in global food security.

episode 124

Why Sweet Corn is Sweet

When we think about corn, we usually think about sweet corn. It is a departure from its cousins that are grown on the vast majority of the acreage, the corn bred for use as animal feed and fuel.

episode 123

Farm Babe Michelle Miller

Michelle Miller grew up in Wisconsin and always had an interest in agriculture. When she reached college she traded in rural life for the big city, working in LA at designer stores and living a big city life.

episode 122

Disease Resistant Bananas

The Cavendish banana is the standard banana of commerce, yet it is under threat by a devastating disease that is spreading quickly around the world.

episode 121

Fighting the Fall Army Worm

The Fall Army Worm is  a moth larvae that is incredibly destructive. It causes widespread crop losses in the Americas and now has been found in Africa.

episode 120

GMOs in Milk, Meat and Eggs? / Edited Animals

Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam is arguably the most effective voice in communication about biotechnology, especially in animals.

episode 119

Know Ideas Media, Nick Saik

When we talk about food and farming, Nick Saik has been excited to tell the story through the camera lens.

episode 118

Pet Vaccines and Pet Foods

Other areas swimming in myth and misinformation involve our pets. Domesticated animals are part of our lives, and therefore are frequent subjects of marketing shams and dangerous trends.

episode 117

Haskap Berries; A Lifetime in Plant Breeding

Dr. Maxine Thompson is a trailblazer. With her education and profound interest in plant breeding, she defied a male-dominated establishment and became a plant breeder at a major university.

episode 116

Early Plant Transformation; All Creatures Podcast

Dr. Ray Shillito is a scientist that spent the early part of his career in plant transformation, attempting novel approaches in the early 1980’s.

episode 115

Review, 2018 Directions

In 2017 we recorded 53 new episodes, including guest hosts and a great range of outstanding guests. 2018 has some interesting new edges.

episode 114

Control of Aflatoxin in Groundnut

Groundnut, or peanut, is a major food staple and excellent protein source in many parts of the world.

episode 113

The Tragic Story of Nikolai Vavilov / Science Moms Documentary

Nikolai Vavilov was a Russian scientist in the early 1900’s. He was known for his characterization of plants, understanding crop domestication, and the centers of origin for many species.

episode 112

BONUS TRACK: Dicamba Situation

Podcast 112 was a discussion of the dicamba situation. Since that episode was recorded I attended a conference from the North Central Weed Science Society in St.

episode 112

The Dicamba Situation

Over the last two years we have heard reports of herbicide damage to Midwestern crops, bearing the signatures of damage from dicamba.

episode 111

Seed Company Consolidation

Over the last century there was an incredible rise in the number of seed companies, driven primarily by the profitability of hybrid seeds in regional markets.

episode 110

Gene Therapies in Pets

The promises of gene therapy have been slow to reach the public for many reasons. Technologies conceived in the 1980’s had a substantial regulatory and proof-of-concept road ahead of them, leading to slow development and deployment.

episode 109

Plant Parasitic Nematodes in Africa

In this week’s podcast Dr. Jonnny Dalzell guest hosts from Tanzania. He visits with scientists from IITA that are helping devise solutions to nematodes.

episode 108

Gene Editing with TALEN

Gene editing has been the center of attention, affecting everything from plants, to mushrooms, to livestock, to human medicine.

episode 107

Biotechnology in Bolivia

Bolivia shares farming similarities with other South American countries. They have diverse land races and native crops that they wish to preserve.

episode 106

Food Security, Biotech, NGOs and Africa

In today’s podcast we speak with science journalist and author Mark Lynas. Mark has been a central figure in the discussion of biotechnology, particularly in regard to its role in ensuring food security in the Developing World.

episode 105

Biotech and Ugandan Food Security

Uganda is at an interesting precipice. They have invested in biotech solutions to solve problems in their central food staples, namely the matooke.

episode 104

Postharvest Solutions in Food Security

Simple solutions can sometimes have tremendous impacts. In this episode Bret Rierson from the World Food Programme discusses a solution to enhancing food security in Africa and around the world.

episode 103

RNAi Crop Protection Strategies

The evolution of weed and insect resistance to traditional controls has brought about the need for new approaches in crop protection.

episode 102

Restoring the American Chestnut

The American Chestnut dominated the Appalachian landscape, ranging from Georgia all the way to Maine.

episode 101

Genetically Engineered Diamondback Moth

The diamondback moth is a formidable agricultural pest, causing tremendous losses on farms and requiring significant cultural and chemical-based management on both conventional and organic farms.

episode 100

Kevin Folta’s Research and SciComm

Any podcast’s 100th episode is reason to celebrate. In Talking Biotech’s 100th episode Chris Barbey interviews its originator, Dr.

episode 99

Glyphosate and Human Health

The herbicide glyphosate has been used for over 40 years and is a relatively safe and effective method to control weeds on the farm, in municipal areas and around the home.

episode 98

Domestication and Radiation of Cats

Modern cats are a lot like their wild counterparts, with specific traits that were gained through domestication.

episode 97

Environmental and Economic Impacts of Biotech Crops

The annual report by agricultural economists Brookes and Barfoot is a helpful resource to understand the impacts of agricultural biotechnology.

episode 96

Biotech Regulatory Affairs

Regulation of new technology in food crops is important for many reasons. It is critical to ensure safety, but a robust regulatory system also shapes consumer sentiment.

episode 95

Imaging Animal Behavior / Targeted for Your Science

Understanding animal stress is important for many reasons. If we know how the animal brain responds to change it helps us understand habitat destruction and climate effects on population dynamics, and can provide important information about human impacts, adaptation, and animal conservation.

episode 94

Bioactive Small RNAs (and the cool paper that wasn’t)

Back in 2012 a paper rocked the scientific community. The claim was that small RNA molecules in dietary plant products could escape digestion, move through the bloodstream, and cause regulatory changes in animal physiology.

episode 93

Ben and Jerry’s Roundup

A story exploded in the New York Times claiming that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and a potent herbicide, was detected in 10/11 flavors of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

episode 92

Abiotic Stress Resistance in Soybean/Regulation Consequences

Dr. Sabina Vidal is a professor at the National Republic University in Uruguay. Her lab is interested in the genetic improvement of soybean, especially in response to abiotic stress.

episode 91

Early Molecular Biology / Nobel Laureates’ Social Mobilization

Today’s genomics explosion has foundations in seminal discoveries in molecular biology almost 50 years ago.

episode 90

Collateral Neonic Impacts

Neonicotinoids (neonics) are a class of insecticides based on natural plant compounds that disrupt the insect nervous system.

episode 89

de novo Domestication

Domestication Dr. Lazaro Peres De novo domestication also has the potential to expand genetic diversity in crops, potentially conferring additional roles in food security.

episode 88

Food Evolution, the Movie

The representation of crop biotechnology in film has been an asymmetrical assault on science and reason.

episode 87

Glyphosate Risk and the IARC Decision

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, has been used as a non-selective (kills all plants) herbicide since 1970.

episode 86

“Know GMO” the Movie

The documentary space is filled with disparaging films about food science, including those that target biotechnology.

episode 85

Biotech, Forest Restoration and Conservation

Forests are under many threats, from new pests and pathogens, to invasive trees, to climate. The advancement of these traits by far exceeds the natural response of trees to acclimate, and outpaces the efforts to traditionally breed trees for forest conservation and restoration.

episode 84

Crop Genetic Engineering- History and Outlook

While the technologies of genetic engineering are quite commonplace, it was not always the case. The scientists that blazed the trail hold tremendous history, and it is good to visit with them to understand where the technology came from and where it is going.

episode 83

Controlled Environment Agriculture

In the race to feed 10 billion people by 2050 some agricultural production will shift to where people live.

episode 82

GE Crop Regulation in Uruguay

Uruguay is a major producer of soy and corn from genetically engineered seeds, with over 2. 5 million acres in production.

episode 81

Potatoes; Past, Present and Future

In the industrialized world the potato is defined as one of a few varieties of tuber crops. But there is tremendous diversity available to be exploited, and potato breeders are folding that into modern germplasm using a variety of methods.

episode 80

Sweet Potato, Nature’s GMO

The sweet potato has special seasonal or fast-food application in the industrialized world, but in many parts of the world it is an important part of the daily diet.

episode 79

Technology and Society

The issues of biotechnology benefit from examination from social scientists. There are scientists that help define the social reaction to science and the way that scientists need to communicate issues in technology.

episode 78

Specialty Crops (Fruits, Veggies, & Nuts!)

What are Specialty Crops?  These are the crops of the produce aisle, fruits, vegetables, nuts. These are high-value crops that receive relatively little research funding compared to other types of the big-ag crops, things like corn, wheat, sugar and soy.

episode 77

Cancer Immunotherapy

The newest and most promising therapies for challenging cancers are adopting molecular-biology strategies.

episode 76

Transgene Flow

This week’s podcast is an important discussion, a cautionary tale of what can happen when genetically-engineered crops are introduced to the environment.

episode 75

Food Truths- Debunking Myths, Celebrating Abundance

Hormones, antibiotics, GMOs…  A trip to the grocery store is a battle against fear and guilt. From marketers to activists, there is a concerted effort afoot to use fear, shame and guilt to shape consumer food choices.

episode 74

Decreased Fungal Food Toxins with RNAi

Aflatoxins are trace compounds produced by certain fungi, and represent a legitimate food safety risk.

episode 73

Agriculture, Butterflies and Bees

The effects of farm insect controls on butterflies and bees are important to understand. Dr. Ric Bessin is an Extension Professor from the University of Kentucky is an entomologist that has studied this relationship.

episode 72

Your Questions Answered

We get lots of comments that the favorite episodes are when Kevin Folta answers your questions about food, farming, and genetic engineering.

episode 71

The Farmer Voice in Social Media

How do biotech seeds affect the end user? If you listened to the “experts” they’d tell you that farmers were forced to buy seeds they didn’t want, because companies controlled their farms.

episode 70

Pears; Speeding Tree Production

Pears are favorite tree fruits, yet they are limited in varieties and availability. Dr. Amit Dhingra from Washington State University explains the roots of pear domestication, its improvement, and why we see so few varieties.

episode 69

Fighting Plant Viruses with RNA – and Clay!

There are no compounds that can be sprayed to fight plant viruses, so plant protection requires managing the insects that spread them.

episode 68

Brassica oleracea – The Dog of the Plant World

Did you know that broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage are all the same species?  Just like dogs are highly-diverse members of the same species descended from a common ancestor, the members of Brassica oleracea also share a common genetic origin.

episode 67

The National Academies Report on Genetic Engineering

The National Academies of Science is one of the most respected scientific organizations on the planet, composed of well-established scientists and other scholars that perform important functions in vetting scientific claims and steering scientific agendas of a nation.

episode 66

Adjusting Plant Defenses to New Pathogens

Following on last week’s episode, plants contain a family of genes called “R genes” that play important roles in resistance to disease.

episode 65

Plant R Genes and their Applications

Plants contain a family of genes called “R genes” that play important roles in resistance to disease.

episode 64

Communicating Effectively with Critics

When we discuss new technology with the public, there is inevitable fear and push back with at least a fraction of those we are trying to reach.

episode 63

Effective Science Communication in 2017

I’ll always remember 2016 as an eclectic mix of hell and success. We learned a lot about how to engage the public and got lots of practice.

episode 62

DNA Evidence and Dog Domestication

Experts agree that dogs have evolved from the gray wolf, but after that there are many questions and debates about how and why they became our prized companions.

episode 61

Terminator Genes! and High School Biotech Outlook

Discussion of biotechnology risks and benefits frequently cites “terminator genes” as a reason to oppose the technology.

episode 60

Toward Sustainability: A place for GE in organic production?

Dr. Mark Williams has extensive training in molecular biology. He also is interested in sustainable crop production, and leads training in organic production at University of Kentucky.

episode 59

Engineering Efficiency in Photosynthesis

Increasing efficiency in photosynthesis has been one of the desired goals of plant biology. A recent paper in the journal Science presents work by a team led by Dr.

episode 58

Important Clarification on the Glyphosate/Groceries Episode

At the time the discussion was 100% correct based on the methods and information provided. I have since been contacted by the laboratory that did the testing.

episode 58

Glyphosate in Groceries; Hops! The Flavor of Beer

In the first part of this week’s podcast you’ll learn how to debunk a viral claim. There are repeated claims that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the weed killer Roundup, is detected in a plethora of food, beverages and body fluids.

episode 57

Corn Origins and Domestication

Corn. It ultimately has a role in so much of what we eat. From a sweet corn cob on the 4th of July, to the calories that made the steak possible, to fuel in our gas tanks, to the sweetness in a soda, corn is a central player.

episode 56

Teaching Biotech with Journey of a Gene

The processes of biotechnology can be a bit of a black box, and that does not help further its understanding or acceptance.

episode 55

Nutrition in the First 1000 Days

Beginning at conception, a new human’s development and long-term health are critically dependent on the availablity of proper nutrition.

episode 54

Peanuts; Talking to Family about GMO

The peanut is a valuable crop for American farmers and is extensively cultivated worldwide. It is an important source of protein and healthy oils.

episode 53

Eggplant Origins and Diversity; Thoughts of Dr. Borlaug

The eggplant (brinjal, aubergine) is a curious fruit in western nations, but is an important staple for hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

episode 52

17 Questions About Glyphosate

Talking Biotech #52 visits with Iida Ruishalme, cell biologist, author and blogger. Iida is a trained scientist that writes the blog Thoughtscapism.

episode 51

Weed Killer in Vaccines?

Today’s episode is born of frustration. Fear-mongering non-experts are abusing improper interpretations from an available herbicide detection kit to make claims that herbicides are now found in vaccines.

episode 50

How to Make a Plant from a Single Cell

One of the most important steps in genetic engineering a plant is the process of regenerating an entire new plant from a single cell that contains the new genetic instructions.

episode 49

Watermelon Domestication, Breeding and Party Tricks; Your Questions

The dog-days of summer are a perfect match for watermelon. This podcast discusses domestication, breeding and interesting stories of where this magical fruit came from, and where it is going.

episode 48

Eggplants, Brinjals and Aubergines

One of the amazing success stories of genetic engineering is the eggplant, known as the “brinjal” in Asia and the “aubergine” in Europe.

episode 47

Genetic Engineering, Extension and Communication

Those of you that follow social media know Dr. Paul Vincelli. He’s a visible contributor to the discussion on genetic engineering, but also ventures into discussion of climate change.

episode 46

Genetics of Depression; Women and Science

Talking Biotech Podcast #46 was a lot of fun. My co-host is the effervescent Kiona Elliott, a wonderful undergraduate student in my lab that not only is studying science, but she’s also studying how to communicate with public audiences.

episode 45

Viral Threats to Coffee

Talking Biotech #45 discusses the viral threats to coffee. We’re joined by Dr. Michael Goodin, Associate Professor of Plant Pathology from the University of Kentucky.

episode 44

Indian Farmers Suicides 2, Your Questions

Talking Biotech Podcast #44 continues Kavin Senapathy’s interview with Dr. Ronald Herring. Dr. Herring is a Professor of Government and International Professor of Agriculture and Rural Development at Cornell University.

episode 43

Indian Farmer Suicides

In discussion of genetically engineered crops there is frequent reference to farmer suicides in India.

episode 42

The National Academies Report Summary

The Seralini Rats make an appearance a the NAS Report Summary. A report on Genetically Engineered Crops was commissioned by the National Academies of Science, and a committee was convened to review the current literature.

episode 41

Innovations to Fight Citrus Disease

If there was anyone that could be dubbed a science wizard, it might be Dr. Jude Grosser. Dr. Grosser has made a career of edgy innovation, creating new solutions that define the forefront of genetic improvements in citrus.

episode 40

Genetic Engineering Forests

Dr. Steve Strauss is a Distinguished Professor of Forestry at Oregon State University. He has been at the forefront of forest biology and genetic engineering of trees, contributing greatly to the understanding of fundamental tree biology, as well as the development of techniques and tools to perform genetic engineering in tree species.

episode 39

What a Plant Knows

It is so wonderful to share the time with Prof. Danny Chamovitz. He’s an accomplished researcher, a successful Dean, and leader in Israel’s agricultural research enterprise.

episode 38

GMO Cheese; Nat’l Academies Review

Chipotle proudly serves it. The Vermont GMO labeling rules exempt it. Still 95% of cheese is manufactured from enzymes created through recombinant DNA technology.

episode 37

Gene Editing Virus Resistant Pigs

The African Swine Fever Virus is a devastating pathogen that leads to fatal disease in domesticated swine.

episode 36

Citrus Domestication, Breeding & Challenges

“Citrus” is a term applied to a variety of popular and nutritious fruits, including oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes.

episode 35

Exploring the Unnaturally Delicious

This week the Talking Biotech Podcast shares an intriguing discussion with Dr. Jayson Lusk. Dr. Lusk is an agricultural and food economist at Oklahoma State University.

episode 34

Strawberry History and Improvement; Favorite Sites

Strawberry is a popular fruit with tremendous commercial value, and while everyone loves a good strawberry, are they actually getting better? This week’s podcast talks to Dr.

episode 33

A Weed Solves a Crisis

Could the lowly dandelion solve a crisis? If Key Gene CEO Dr. Arjen van Tunen and associates are correct, this yard pest may be the basis of sustainable and highly profitable rubber production.

episode 32

In Search of Celiac-Safe Wheat

Dietary reactions to wheat are on the rise, and science is grasping for answers. One approach to work around the genetic basis of the reaction, and that is well understood.

episode 31

Coffee Origins, Breeding and Challenges

When we think of the plants that are important to us, we might think right past the magical shrub that gives us coffee berries.

episode 30

Glyphosate in Breast Milk and Wine?

Recent unpublished reports are popping up on the internet that suggest that the herbicide glyphosate is showing up at dangerous levels in a variety of places.

episode 29

Banana Disease and GE Solutions

Dr. Leena Tripathi is a leader in banana biotechnology, working at IITA in Nairobi, Kenya. She has been publishing prolifically on a number of solutions for banana disease resistance using genetic engineering.

episode 28

All About Bt!

If you tell a stranger that something called “delta endotoxin” is as close as it gets to a miracle, they’d likely respond in one of two ways.

episode 27

Cherry Domestication and Breeding, Herbicide Beer?

Cherries are a perennial favorite fruit. However, they are a tree, so their genetic improvement is slow.

episode 26

The Story of GE Papaya, Helping People Save an Industry

The story of how genetic engineering saved the Hawaiian papaya industry gets lost in the discussion of agronomic crop uses of the technology.

episode 25

Beautiful GMOs and the Not-So-Dirty Dozen

In today’s Talking Biotech Podcast the first guest is Keira Havens. She’s the CEO of Revolution Bio, a company turned non-profit that is interested in using the power of plants to introduce the public to the power of genetic engineering.

episode 24

Biotech & Tomato Breeding – Social Media on the Farm

Improving plants with biotechnology is not just genetic engineering, it is using tools of molecular biology and genomics to guide traditional breeding strategies.

episode 23

Innovative Approaches of the Future Farm Project 2050

Several weeks ago there was a request for Talking Biotech Podcast to interview Prof Graeme Martin. Prof Martin has a long career in animal reproductive biology, and in recent times has had more focus on how to test new strategies in supporting livestock, crops and the nation’s resident biodiversity.

episode 22

Cassava 2, History, Domestication; Biotech Virus Resistance

Biotech innovation in cassava is necessary to speeding genetic improvement of this food staple. Together with breeding efforts, the new resources derived define new crops that primarily serve the developing world.

episode 21

Solutions for Cassava – Biofortification and Characterizing Disease Vectors

Cassava (Manihot esculentum) is a critical world food crop, the third most consumed staple outside of rice and maize.

episode 20

An Experiment You can Do With Us; Sugar Beet Breeding and Biology

This eThis episode of Talking Biotech invites you to be the investigator and data collector. The internet is littered with images that claim animals will not eat GMO corn, which is curious because 80% of it goes to animal feed.

episode 19

The SciBabe Talks Toxins; Your Questions Answered

Today chemophobia rules supreme. From fast-food establishments to farming critics, everyone seems to be an expert, except the experts! Talking Biotech #19 features The SciBabe, Yvette d’Entremont (@TheSciBabe).

episode 18

Insecticides, Herbicides, Organic and Conventional Ag

The topic of “pesticides” is the new frontier in the opposition to agricultural biotechnology. Opponents of the technology blame new genetic improvement methods for perceived increases in chemical controls for plant, animal and fungal pests.

episode 17

Biotech, Ag and Insects; Promoting Art with Science; Barbara on the Bill

This week we’re joined by Richard Levine, communications director for the Entomological Society of America.

episode 16

Biotechnology in Uganda; Reflections on a Public Discussion

This week features two discussions with fellows serving in the Global Leadership Program of the Cornell Alliance for Science.

episode 15

Tomatoes! Innovative Breeding and a Biotech Solution

This episode is an introduction to tomatoes, popular fruits that provide great variation to the eye and palate, as well as the foundation of many recipes.

episode 14

Biotech Solution to Citrus Greening Disease; Your Questions Answered

This week’s Talking Biotech features discussion of Huanglongbing (HLB) also known as Citrus Greening Disease.

episode 13

Kevin Folta — Monsanto Outreach Support, FOIA, Transparency

This week I had to address the elephant in the room. What’s up with the recent flack about Monsanto funding a science communication outreach program? What is happening with FOIA?  What is the future of the Talking Biotech science communication program?.

episode 12

Genetically Modified Mosquito Control – Careers in Plant Breeding

This week’s podcast discusses Kevin Folta’s public records situation for 60 seconds. That is followed by a talk with Dr.

episode 11

Success or Failure? Good Study Called Bad, Bad Study Called Gold.

This week’s podcast is an important analysis of two published reports. First, the results from the famous Rothamstead wheat trial show that their transgene does not confer resistance to aphids, inconsistent with their laboratory findings.

episode 10

Saving the American Chestnut; Lettuce History and Modern Improvement

This Talking Biotech Podcast features Dr. William Powell from SUNY, where he is co-Director of the American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project.

episode 9

Don’t Let Dr. Oz Tell YOUR Story– Teaching the Public about Farming

Ag professionals know their businesses and on-farm practices better than anyone. However, they don’t tend to share their story in public space, allowing others (including unscrupulous hucksters and activists) to warp their reality.

episode 8

Sustainable Salmon; All ‘Bout Bananas

Salmon is an outstanding food for protein, and undeniably great table fare. The AquaBounty company has produced the AquaAdvantage salmon, a fish that grows to production size in less time.

episode 7

Stopping Avian Flu Spread; Potato Origins

This episode of Talking Biotech features stories of genetically engineered chickens that do not spread the avian influenza virus.

episode 6

Misrepresenting Real Science; Carrots- Past and Future

Several trends are present in the anti-ag-biotech literature. First, many papers are poorly done, present opinion without data, or overstep the data accumulated.

episode 5

Talking Biotech in Washington DC

This week’s Talking Biotech discusses a recent trek to Washington DC, where Kevin Folta, Chris Barbey and Alejandra Abril Guevara answered questions for the US House Science, Technology and Space Committee.

episode 4

Non Browning Apples; the Story of Cotton

This week’s podcast features an interview with Neal Carter from Okanagan Specialty Fruits. His biotech megacorporation of eight employees has developed the Arctic Apple, a product where a gene central to the browning reaction has been essentially turned off.

episode 3

A Life-Saving Banana for Uganda; Grape Domestication and Improvement

Dr. James Dale from the Queensland University of Technology speaks of his banana engineered with beta carotene that can soothe blindness and death in central African countries.

episode 2

Engineering Hornless Cows; Blueberry Origins

This episode of Talking Biotech features Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam from the University of California at Davis.

episode 1

Introduction, and Sleuth4Health Julee K

This pilot episode is an introduction to the talking biotech podcast. Special Guest, Sleuth4Health Julee K.


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