Tag Archives: #biotechnology

Document Reflection: CFI- Gene Editing Communication Resource in 2018

Gene editing or genome editing is one of the most promising innovations today which can be used to modify gene to resist disease for organism, increase the production of livestock and plants and so on. This advanced technology help improving the farmers’ s and food industries’ business significantly. But it also rises up a huge amount of concern from public. Because less than half people understand what gene editing is, it is easy to fear something that people isn’t familiar with. Therefore, scientists or experts have responsibility to explain. Also, how to demonstrate it is important. There are several effective communication approaches introduced in this document. Frist of all, people are more willing to trust experts or scientist rather than the companies or farmers who sell these GMO products. It is more acceptable, if explaining gene edition by telling that this technology is just similar to the potential of improving human health by using gene editing. And spokespersons should embrace skepticism and respect what people beliefs. Sharing an idea that people can take benefits from this technology most, not the companies, and the plants, animals and environment can be benefitable.

If public can understand more about the advanced technologies popping out in this world, listen to others’ ideas, not only opposing the new technologies, it will help to solve many issues in this planet.

Industry and Academia in Agriculture with David Mayonado

Dave Mayonado gave a guest lecture on Industry and Academia in Agriculture. He began with the history of technology in Agriculture. The glory days of technology in agriculture was when farmers used animal labor and relied heavily on family involvement. Most farms were small intimate farms that fed the immediate family tending to the farms. Food production was limited in the late 1800s because the technology was not there. The Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890 established raising funds by granting federally controlled lands to the states to establish land-grant colleges. The purpose was to focus on the teaching of practical agriculture, science, military science, and engineering. Science-based research and development by government, academia, and private industry over the past 100 years have aided the increase in US crop production via improved agronomic practices and the adoption of new tools. By applying rigorous scientific principles to the development of agricultural technologies and techniques has allowed Mid-Atlantic farmers to grow larger crops while improving soil quality and fostering an environment for wildlife. Some examples of biological tools are CRISPR, GMOs, and GWS. CRISPR is a gene editing tool that allows us to change the genes of a crop plant to be more drought or pest resistant. This allows for the crop to have a higher yield when faced with a drought since it can tolerate less rainfall.

David has an incredible background in the industry as he has worked for Monsanto. Monsanto was founded in 1901. Then cell biology research began in 1972. Monsanto has been a leader in putting out genetically modified plants commercially.


On November 12th, 2018 we had a guest lecture from Dave Mayonado. He gave a guest lecture on Industry and Academia in Agriculture. He started out the lecture by talking about technology in Agriculture. This started out with him talking about in the past when we used animals to pull plows and did things by hand. He also mentioned how the entire family was involved in farming. The first thing to cause a change was Land Grant Universities which established land-grant colleges to focus on the teaching of agriculture, science, military science, and engineering. From this we had more acts created that focuses on research in the agriculture field. This has led to an increase in US crop production via improved agronomic practices and the adoption of new tools. Dave also mentioned some examples of biological tools. This included CRISPR and GMOs. CRISPR is a gene editing tool that allows us to change the genes of a crop plant to be more drought or pest resistant. This allows for the crop to have a higher yield when faced with a drought since it can tolerate less rainfall. After talking some more about biotechnology he talked about Monsanto.

He started out by giving information on Monsanto’s history. He talked about the founding of it back in 1901. Then cell biology research began in 1972. From this he mentioned all the seed brands that they have. He also gave stats about the business. He also mentioned that Monsanto is a company that gets work done fast. He mentioned that they have been adjusting to the way things are now that Bayer has purchased Monsanto. He also mentioned new opportunities that will be available since Monsanto and Bayer cover different parts of the industry. Overall it was a very informative lecture. Thank you Dave Mayonado for being our guest lecturer and talking about the biotechnology industry in Agriculture.

Dave Mayonado & Biotechnology

In class we had the opportunity to hear Dave Mayonado talk about biotechnology and his experience with Monsanto, and now Bayer. He started out but briefly talking about agricultural practices before we had all this precision agriculture technology and biotechnology. Explaining how land grant universities had the ability to conduct great amounts of research about agriculture. Afterwards he began to dive into how the knowledge of genetics and proteins in a plants genome has created for so many advances in agriculture. The ability for seed companies to insert targeted traits, silence traits, or add traits into a plants DNA allowed for them to start producing seeds that wouldn’t die from glyphosate, withstand drought better, produce higher levels of oil, and much more. This changed the face of agriculture. However, this technology is something that is heavily targeted but anti-GMO activists despite the fact that it is constantly being proven as a safe technology. In being employed with now Bayer, Mayonado has to be an agvocate for such technology, although that may not be formally in his job description.

I thought it was really interesting how Mayonado explained he spends a lot of the time in his job, working with government officials to educate them on this technology. The food and fiber system is quite the platform for political figures but yet a lot of them really have no idea what they are actually talking about. In saying so, I think a lot of people don’t realize that major seed companies have to take many different roles in educating consumers/political figures in order to continue to have successful company. He also talked about how they are constantly having to research, create, and produce new products in order to keep up with the producer and the demands. A big concern with this technology is the development of resistance in pests, so marketing new products so producers have different modes of action is crucial to a biotech company like Bayer. Creation of such products is lengthy, costly process but if done correctly can be very financially rewarding. Clearly, Monsanto/Bayer have been able to do just that.

Mayonado gave a great lecture pertaining to biotechnology and his experience within the company. Although I may not have understand all the technical science in his presentation, the one point that stuck out to me was that he never has the same work day. Things are always changing, and that is innovation something that excites me as a future producer.

David Mayonado Guest Lecture

I really enjoyed Mr. Mayonado’s lecture he gave on 11-12-18. He talked about Monsanto being bought by Bayer and how it was weird for him after working for Monsanto for 30 years but that it ultimately needed to happen. I learned that mergers happen to make the world more efficient meaning that more product can be produced while also saving money. It reminded me of my agricultural economic classes; if country A can make something for cheaper than  country B and country B can make a different product for cheaper than country A, the two countries will trade those products and won’t spend extra money trying to produce it themselves. Monsanto is a huge seed breeding company that uses genetic technology to get the traits they want. I always thought that after I got my PhD that I would want to work for a company like Monsanto and after this guest lecture I definitely want to.


Mark Lynas help found the anti-GMO campaign back in 1995. He felt that GMO’s would act as pollution. He also felt that people were getting to much technological power since we were “mixing species.” During the 2013 Oxford Farming Conference he also mentions that it was very anti-science since they pictured scientist doing gene splitting as mad scientists. It wasn’t until he did more research and found information that he realized his thoughts were wrong. This change was started by a comment on his final anti-gm piece on the Garden. A critic told him “so you’re opposed to GM on the basis it’s marketed by big corporations are you also against the wheel since it’s marketed by big auto companies.” This led to him researching since the analogy caught his attention. In the end he found that GMO’s benefited people, farmers, and the ecosystem. It was interesting to hear how he was working on a Global warming project and informing people with science but wasn’t using any science in his campaign against GMO’s in 1995 and his pieces on the Garden.
My view on genetically modified organisms is pro GMO’s since they provide many benefits to people and the ecosystem. With GMOs we can grow crops that need less water, fertilizer application and can be more resistant to pest. This in turn means less pollution of waterways from fertilizer which can lead to eutrophication and less pesticide, fungicide and herbicide needing to be used. This helps protect the land and water we do have while protecting animals. The benefit other than saving money by using less fertilizer and control methods on pest is we get increased yield from the same farm. This in turn allows people to protect more forest from getting destroyed for the use of more fields. The decrease in cost is also helpful in developing countries since it reduces the cost for them making it easier to become self-sustaining.

Mark Lynas and GMO’s

Mark Lynas was one of the co-founding members of the anti-GMO’s that began campaigning back in the late 1990’s about how GMO’s are so dangerous and could be leading to the use of more chemicals in the crops now. But during the time he was writing his book he pulled a full 180 an began to relies that the dangers in the GMO’s are really not the more people have gotten sick from actually eating Organic food’s. Which don’t get treated with anything to help prevent pests or the disease in from attacking the plant. When he realized that the GMO plant’s didn’t have any backlash of people getting sick from his research and that they actually wont be spraying as many chemicals because the seeds and plants are able to defend themselves from the pests or disease.

Also he realized if we don’t continue to use these GMO’s the world will run out of food because organic farmers wont be able to keep up with the demands of crops needing to be produced. Where GMO’s are making the yields much higher for farmers that have minimal area to work with due to the increase of people in the country’s.

For all of these reasons that Mark talked about in this video he gave me more info to throw at people when they argue that GMO’s are bad and they hurt people. I can actually give evidence that Mark used it this video and back myself up. Also it keeps me still believing that GMO’s are not bad still because if it wasn’t for the crops we probably would have extremely expensive crops in the stores because there would be to much bad media behind GMO’s.

Mark Lynas’s Changing Opinions on GM Crops

Listening to Mark Lynas not only discuss how his opinions on genetically modified crops have completely changed but also to hear him apologize for bashing on on GM crops was quite interesting to hear. I think it is rare to hear such a strong shift from anti-GMO to pro-GMO. The basis of his switch was, in summary, due to the lack of science that supports GM crops are harmful. It was also aided by his recognition of what is actually causing the problems that people think GM crops are causing. The one point that really stuck out to me was when he said the threat of starvation and world hunger is much greater than the threat of consuming a GM product. Mark Lynas was a prime example of how someone can make an incorrect assumption based on social movements/lack of education on the subject. In his case though, he sought out the correct information and realized his prior opinions were completely invalid to what science was actually saying about GM crops.

My view on genetically modified crops is that they are a safe and sustainable way for farmers to produce the food that needs to be produced to feed the ever growing population. That being said, I don’t think organic farming is a bad thing either. I think organic farming is great, but not sustainable for the population. I also agree with the logic behind Mark Lynas’s opinion. I wouldn’t be in support of something that I thought had a chance of hurting people. Also from a farmer/producer standpoint, we would not grow a crop that would harm our consumers. In the end the consumer is who is determining our profit, so why would we produce something that would be harmful to them? That is why I support GM crops.

CRISP/Cas 9 Gene Editing

CRISPR/Cas9 is a system that has just recently been discovered around the early 2000s and is taking the science world by surprise. This system is much more accurate compared to early gene editing systems, which makes it the new technique scientist are using. The way this system works is by targeting a specific genome and altering it. While you may think it sounds simple you might be surprised because quite frankly working with DNA sequences is very complex and hard. When looking further into the process there are two molecules used one being the Cas9 and the other being RNA. Now when a scientist picks out what DNA sequence they want to cut out in order to alter the genes they first need Cas9. This molecule is an enzyme that is inserted into the DNA sequence and cuts at a specific location in order to alter the DNA sequence where the scientist pick without harming the whole gene. Though in order for the enzyme to cut out the specific location it needs guide RNA to show it the right path. That means that the RNA is responsible for leading Cas9 to an exact spot in the DNA sequence and then performs the cut. Once the cut is made the cell recognizes the change in the DNA and tries to repair itself. However before the cell can repair itself the scientist uses a DNA repairing machine to introduce changes which will then become part of the gene. Once this process is complete the gene has the desirable trait the scientist picked out and now the process is done.






Gene Editing

Gene editing as defined by Merriam Webster is, the use of biotechnological techniques to make changes to specific DNA sequences in the genome of a living organism.  This basically means that scientists can go into DNA strands and edit them to display, or not display a certain trait. This can allow for greater accuracy and efficiency of an organism at interest. It is also noted that the process of gene editing usually would naturally occur in nature after repeated breeding. Gene editing just speeds up the process of improving genetics.

This technology of being able to change genetic material in a beneficial way is extremely important for the future of agriculture. It is extremely important in the food and fiber production system and the forever increasing demand of these products. Gene editing can benefit farmers in allowing them to keep up with the demand to produce food. This adds a great value to gene editing because it is one way producers can meet the demand for food and fiber, that will continue to grow.

CRISPR/Cas9 System

CRISPR-Cas 9 is a system that enables geneticists and medical researchers to edit parts of a genome by removing, adding or altering sections of the DNA sequence. Cas9 is a protein that is programmed by small RNAs to cleave DNA at the DNA strand where a scientist wants it to cut. The Cas9 is complexed with both a crRNA and a separate trans-activating crRNA in order to achieve the site-specific DNA recognition and cleavage. From this scientist can change the genes in the genome of a cell by introducing new genes into the sequence. CRISPR-Cas9 was discovered in adaptive immunity in select bacteria and archaea that enabled the organisms to respond to and eliminate invading genetic material.

This system or technology is better than other biotechnology since it is more accurate and is less likely to result in an error. The reason this is more accurate is it targets the specific spot in the sequence where the new genes need to be added. This is different than the other method of using chemicals or radiation to cause mutations. By using chemicals or radiation you were affecting the entire genome and could get a mutation you didn’t want since it was up to chance. Currently the CRISPR-Cas9 system is the fastest, cheapest and most reliable system for editing genes.

For more information on this you can go to https://www.yourgenome.org/facts/what-is-crispr-cas9 which simplifies the process. For a more in-depth look into it you can go to https://www.neb.com/tools-and-resources/feature-articles/crispr-cas9-and-targeted-genome-editing-a-new-era-in-molecular-biology which goes into the biology of it and explains all the types of RNA that are used in the system.

Mark Isaacs’s Lecture on Biotechnology in Agriculture

Biotechnology is so widely debated everywhere on our planet. He gave us a great overview and information into what biotechnology is and some of the concerns about it. It is crazy to think that biotechnology started thousands of years ago and people still have fears about it. Gregor Mendel helped figure out laws of inheritance. Biotechnology is a great tool to be able to make genetic changes to a plant and to put traits in them such as pest resistance. It can improve crop yield by being able to put a resistant gene into the plant to help the crops grow without damage from environmental conditions. Without biotechnology, our growing population would run out of food. Biotechnology allows farmers to improve yields with the same amount of land. People are just concerned because it is not a natural process. Hopefully, the world can resolve this issue in time to feed the next generations to come.

Guest Lecturer: Dave Mayonado

When you think of the Monsanto, an American multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation, what is the first thing you think of? Many people think of the documentary Food Inc. where Monsanto is portrayed as thugs of the agricultural industry. The problem is this is where people stopped doing their research. Most people don’t consider Monsanto’s point of view. This is why I think having Dave Mayonado as a guest lecturer was so important! We got to hear Monsanto’s side straight from the company. Mr. Mayonado gave a history about Monsanto and how they became the agricultural giant they are today. He then went on to talk about Genetically Modified Organisms and new techniques like RNAi technology which allows gene silencing. Gene silencing presents the possibility of turning off specific genes, which might have many practical agricultural applications. The most exciting part about this new technology is how it can be presented to consumers. This technology doesn’t involve inserting new genes into a different plant which is a scary thought for consumers. Throughout his presentation Mr. Mayonado made it a point that GM crops are the most thoroughly studied foods in the world and that their safety has been consistently demonstrated. Seeing both sides for every argument is always important so you can form your own opinion on the matter. I felt as though this lecture was one of the most beneficial because it allowed us as students to grasp more information and so as we go out into the world we can educate others.

Monsanto: A company that is better than what your friend told you.

Science and agriculture together do seem scary but really that is how we learn, practice, study and much more for everything we create and discover. Monsanto is a large company that does a lot of science work for the agriculture industry.

Science based research and development over the past 100 years have resulted in a huge increase in US crop production via improved agronomic practices, the adoption of ever improving mechanical, chemical and biological tools. This science has allowed Mid-Atlantic farmers to provide steadily larger crops while at the same time improving soil quality and fostering an environment that supports a thriving wildlife population.

The changing tools for agriculture pest management began at hand and animal labor. Then it went to mechanical labor by the use of steel. Next is chemical labor that used small molecules such as no-till. And today biological which uses proteins and RNA through GMOs. “What are GMOs? Biotechnology in plant agriculture has come to mean the process of intentionally making a copy of a gene for a desired trait from one plant or organism and using it in another plant. The result is a GMO (genetically modified organism).” Some commercial products of biotechnology are RoundUp Ready Corn which allows growers to be more effective and efficient in the control of weeds. YieldGard Corn allows growers to manage yield robbing insects without the need to spray. DroughtGard Corn enhances drought tolerance in corn for tough environments. Lastly, Vistive Gold/Plenish Soybeans are soybeans that provide a vegetable oil that is more healthy for consumers.

To date, more than 2,000 scientific studies have assessed the safety of these crops in terms of human health and environmental impact. These studies together with several reviews performed on a case by case from regulatory agencies around the world, have enabled a solid and clear scientific consensus: GM crops have no more risk than those that have been developed by conventional breeding techniques.

Lecture on Biotechnology in Agriculture

Biotechnology in today’s agriculture industry is important to the point where without it we would not be able to feed the world’s population. The biotechnology used is basic sciences that use scientific discovery and new technologies for the manipulation of the building blocks of the plant’s genetic information.  Farmers are able to grow five times the amount of corn that they could back in the 1930’s on 20% less land. The first to revolutionize yield production through different varieties of plants was Norman E. Borlaug. He shares his ideas with other to lower hunger issues leading him to win a Nobel Peace Prize in 1970.  Ag Biotechnology allows plants to have their genetics changed to become resistant pests, disease and build a tolerance to invasive plants, also creating the GMO. Farmers have adopted this way of growing because of yield increase, energy savings, tillage effectiveness, pesticide savings, better pest control for weeds and insects, and it helps save money. Despite there being fears towards biotechnologies and GMO’s farmers see them as a haven so they are able to feed more people and also make a profit.