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February 18, 2018

011 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.  While this outcome was considered to be a successful, reliable answer, it was billed as an abject failure on anti-biotech activist websites. Today we revisit the issues of publication and peer-review, and the story of the threats of vandalism against the experiment.  We then will speak with Prof. John Pickett from Rothamstead Research Institute. We’ll discuss the lab work the trials, and future directions.

The second part of the podcast discusses the recent publication from Adyydurai et al that claims transgenic soy produces abnormal amounts of formaldehyde, relative to non-transgenic controls.  The conclusion comes from a computational approach that was never experimentally validated.  Since, I have extended an offer to test their hypothesis, yet they have not accepted the opportunity to examine if their prediction is in fact correct.  Meanwhile, they are using this paper as a warning about transgenic crops.

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4 Comments on 011 Success or Failure? Good Study Called Bad, Bad Study Called Gold.

  1. Question: (didn’t fit on twitter)
    Suppose we use mainly bug resistant plants, the bugs die because they have nothing to eat, what about the animals whose diet consists of bugs, and what about those animals that rely on the animals that rely on bugs?
    Couldn’t that cause a chainreaction leading to an ecological catastrophe? I know you are not a Zoologist but I’m sure you know abit about that.

    • That is a good question, but it can best be answered in two ways. The insects feeding on the crops are prevalent because of the crops… which don’t belong in our North American ecosystems, especially in their current forms. Pest do well because we feed them! Second, if we don’t use targeted, installed pest protection then other mechanisms must be used. Flying a plane of insecticide has a much more dramatic effect. Good question.

  2. I love your podcasts. I especially loved this one because it reminded me of what it takes to run an idea through the Scientific Method and how the results can be closely tied to ego if one is not careful. You mentioned in one of them that you are accepting recommendations for interesting guests. I would like to connect you with the professor who changed my life through his Science Communication course. Please tell me where I should post his details. Keep up the good work, it will pay off.

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