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.
Kakao in Monokultur verträgt Trockenheit besser als Kakao in Mischsystemen
18.09.2017 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Ultrasound sensors make forage harvesters more reliable
28.08.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
25.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
25.09.2017 | Health and Medicine
25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy