Tag: genetic engineering

Fuel from germs

[podcast]https://edwardwillett.com/wp-content/upLoads//2010/01/Fuel-from-Germs.mp3[/podcast] For years, we’ve been turning crops such as corn, wheat and sugar beets into fuel, using yeast to convert sugar into alcohol. But there’s an obvious problem with this. That stuff we’re turning into fuel is also food for humans and feed for animals. (And as an aside, how come we always call it …

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Liquid fuel from solar power

[podcast]https://edwardwillett.com/wp-content/upLoads//2009/07/Liquid-Fuels-from-Solar-Power.mp3[/podcast] In recent years, scientists and engineers have turned to biofuels—fuels generated from living things, and hence renewable—as a means of weaning us off of fossil fuels in favor of something cleaner, less likely to run out, and less wrapped up in international geopolitics. Fermenting the sugars found in corn or other grains into ethanol …

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Tearless onions

Download the audio version.Get my science column weekly as a podcast. I’m a sensitive kinda guy. I fact, I’m so sensitive I sometimes tear up just during the process of making dinner. It’s not that I’m overcome with emotion at the blessing of having at my disposal the wherewithal to stir-fry. (I’m not that sensitive.) …

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Genetic modification of large animals just got easier

Efforts to genetically modify large animals have been hindered by the fact that the two methods currently used to effect it, somatic cell nuclear transfer or pronuclear injection, are costly, inefficient, difficult, and carry a risk of producing abnormal offspring. Now researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine have successfully produced genetically …

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"The Spider-Goat Clones of Montreal," revisited

Every day or two I check the SiteMeter stats for edwardwillett.com, and today I noticed my visits were around 200 higher than I would expect (I usually get 350 to 450 visitors each day, but today I’m up over 600). A check revealed that the extra traffic is coming from people searching for “spider goat” …

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Made-to-order DNA…

…is about to get a lot easier to create: Installing one of those prefab, snap-together wood-flooring kits is a lot easier than shaping and sanding rough planks. Adapting a similar construction strategy, a biotech startup called Codon Devices, based in Cambridge, MA, aims to streamline genetic engineering. It makes made-to-order DNA strands, freeing scientists from …

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Farming mutates into pharming:

“Genetically modified chickens lay drugs in eggs.”

Cotton: it’s what’s for dinner

Or, at least, it could be soon: “The exciting finding is that we have been able to reduce gossypol – which is a very toxic compound – from cottonseed to a level that is considered safe for consumption,” said Dr. Keerti Rathore, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station plant biotechnologist. “In terms of human nutrition, it has …

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Have yourself a genetically modified little Christmas

Searching for the perfect Christmas tree can be a hassle, and even a tree that looks great on the lot can turn out to have weird branches, flat spots or gaps once it opens up. But someday soon, every Christmas tree may be perfect, thanks to science. Around 40 million Christmas trees are harvested every …

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The spider-goat clones of Montreal

  Cloned, genetically altered goats producing spider silk in their milk sounds like something out of The X-Files, but it was in all the papers last week when a company called Nexia revealed it had cloned three goats (Clint, Danny and Arnold), and explained why. The cloning of goats brings to four (sheep, mice, cows …

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Genetic engineering

Though the word “biotechnology” sounds very modern, what it describes has been with us for centuries–if you define it, as one science encyclopedia does, as “using biological organisms, systems or processes to make or modify products.” In other words, the first time somebody discovered the wondrous change wrought in grape juice by fermentation, or an …

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