It’s spreading!

I’ve got two more genetic engineering blogs to add to my blogroll. The first is called GMO Food for Thought, and is run by C.S. Prakash, AgBioWorld founder. He maintains a declaration in support of Agricultural Biotechnology at his site, and there are over 3,400 signers of this list. (Although I can’t seem to navigate past the first page of signers.)

The second is Malaysia4Biotech, another blog popping up overseas, which has already started churning out the posts. Author Mahaletchumy Arujanan opens with the big Why for blogging about biotech:

The 21st century is hailed as the century of biological sciences, particularly biotechnology which is revolutionizing all aspects of our lifestyles from food to agriculture, environment, industry, and healthcare and medicine. Biotechnology is changing the terrains and landscapes of these fields to enhance the quality of life and environment. Countries are racing to embrace this powerful tool to create wealth though innovation. Malaysia is not spared as the government has pledged it strong commitments to develop this sector.

However, we are lagging behind many nations which seriously points out that the current efforts put into this area are insufficient or ineffective. Many constraints and hurdles are faced by those involved in the biotechnology sector. Lack of funding, grants, expertise, pool of skilled workers, experience in commercialization, collaboration between scientists and the industry, and commitments from venture capital and bankers are some of the glaring constraints and hurdles faced. This is coupled with the anti-technology movement spearheaded by activists, environmentalists and consumer groups. Sentiments such as anti-technology, globalization, and monopolization by certain multinational companies have been planted into the minds of the general public.

This phenomenon is further magnified by the resistance of the media to publish or air more news on science and technology. Often negative news on biotechnology captures the headlines, which is further sensationalized by the media to gain the attention of readers. This certainly does not augur well with our aspiration to make Malaysia a global biotechnology player.

This blog aims at providing a platform for all stakeholders, including general public to read and discuss the issues plaguing the biotechnology sector in this country and counter the negative and unfounded accusations hurled at this powerful technology. It is hoped through this blog, the public will have better understanding of the technology and raise valid concerns over the implication of the technology.
– Mahaletchumy Arujana

A very well-thought out summary of why this growing group of genetic engineering bloggers is engaging in this topic. Mahaletchumy is joined by Joel WIlliams and KC Liew at Malaysia4Biotech. The question still remains for me, why now?

I could answer it for myself. I’ve always given genetic engineering particular attention on my show, and while I was jusst producing my show in Davis, I didn’t write much on my blog, although I intended to. Temporarily halting the mindcast coincided with going to grad school, which has been a major driver of thought for me on the subject. Bombarded with papers, issues, facts about genetic engineering, breeding, interactions with other grad students and professors – how can I not think about it, and want to start writing about it too?

But what can explain the rise this year in particular, is genetic engineering getting talked about more than ever? Actually, looking at Google Trends, it seems that the volume of news and discussion about GE is not particularly high right now. (Blue: Genetic Engineering, Red: GMO)

Perhaps, then, it reflects a change in attitude. There have been some pretty big developments this year, and as food production is being called into question for its long-term sustainability, biofuels come into the picture, and people are listening. Maybe we see an opportunity to educate, maybe we’re cognizant of a slightly different situation, or maybe we all figured it was just about time. Who knows, let’s go with it. We’re spreading like runaway transgenes!*

Check out the blogs on my Genetic Engineering blogroll on the right. Bit by bit we’re linking together. If only there was a place we could all post information and build a community of plant genetics communicators?

I shouldn’t tease… but stay tuned. 🙂

*Which of course hasn’t really happened.

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Karl Haro von Mogel

Karl Haro von Mogel serves as BFI’s Director of Science and Media and as Co-Executive Editor of the Biofortified Blog. He has a PhD in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics from UW-Madison with a minor in Life Sciences Communication. He is currently a Postdoctoral Scholar researching citrus genetics at UC Riverside.

2 thoughts on “It’s spreading!”

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