Events like the September 2000 discovery of biologically engineered corn in fast food tortillas have focused media attention and stirred controversy about genetically modified organisms. While new approaches in agricultural biotechnology have improved crop quality and yield, the incorporation of genes from other organisms into food plants has raised concerns about possible health risks and environmental consequences. A new report from the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM) looks at the case of a bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) and its use in agriculture in a careful examination of what we know--and what we need to know--about transgenic plants.
The document, "100 Years of Bacillus thuringiensis: A Critical Scientific Assessment," follows the experience with Bt since it was discovered over 100 years ago as a cause of disease in Japanese silkworms. Bt insecticides, made of bacterial spores and protein crystals, have been applied to crops in spray products since the 1940s. In 1987, researchers discovered that the insecticidal crystal protein (ICP) genes from Bt could be introduced into plants to produce pest-resistant crops. It is now estimated that 12 million hectares, or about 29,652,000 acres, of insect-protected crops with Bt ICPs are planted worldwide each year. Corn and cotton are most common, but the release of Bt rice, soybeans, canola and some fruits and vegetables is expected soon.
Bt crops, the report says, have many positive effects. Reducing insect damage with insecticidal proteins reduces fungal toxins in the food supply, while better crops improve farmers livelihood. Replacing chemical pesticides has reduced toxic hazards to the environment and to farm-workers. Yet concerns related to Bt crops include the potential for harm to organisms other than the insects targeted by Bt, the development of Bt-resistant insects, the possibility of toxicity or allergenic properties in Bt crops or their pollen, and the consequences of gene flow to related wild plants or other organisms.
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Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
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