GMO Labeling perspective

by Brenna Scheiderer, Sustainable Plant Systems – Horticulture major

I think a really popular topic in the in the public eye right now is the debate for genetically modified organisms vs. against genetically modified organisms. What I find personally interesting about this the argument is not whether they’re unsafe but rather should there be more labeling or label laws for this type of situation.

On both sides of the debate the members just want there to be a fair opinion about the product. The side supporting the labeling GMO’s they want to allow people to know what exactly they are consuming. If the product is labeled correctly in an unbiased fashion it should properly display what the product contains.

For the side against labeling there is a lot of different arguments but the big one is that labeling could cause false marketing and people may not want to buy that product any more. This is totally understandable we’ve all had a moment in the tore where a product is advertising how healthy, no GMO’s, organic, gluten free it is and for a second it looks better than its cheaper GMO competitor. I see why labeling could be seen as a bad thing do to it being advertised wrong.

In my opinion, I think that genetically modified organisms should be labeled, not because they are dangerous but because I believe people should know what they are eating. To make this fair there should be a law or something like a committee that has a set of rules and guidelines that labels food so they are not biases.

I grew up in a small rural town where everyone farms so GMO’s was something I learned about very young. It wasn’t until I started working in the greenhouse industry that I met people with different opinions about them than me. As I’ve continued my education in a plant based community I’ve learned more and more and have been able to develop my own opinion.

 

The Motivation You Needed to Get More Plants

By Malia Musso – Accounting Major, The Ohio State University

Most people have probably noticed that almost every household or personal space features trendy plants as a part of the décor. I’ve recently felt the appeal of a room filled with plants. Something about it makes me feel more relaxed, and somehow makes my rooms feel brighter and homier. However, like most new plant owners, I’ve learned that taking care of a wide range of plants is much harder than just dumping some water on them on occasion. I’ve had my issues, and with the help of some research and consulting some people who truly have a green thumb, I feel that I can offer some advice to those who may want to start their own little garden but feel they need a little help.

First off, different types of plants require different types of care. I had a beautiful little plant called a mosaic, and I followed the watering instructions, once weekly, and within about a month, the leaves began to turn brown and become brittle and then fall. Not much later, my little mosaic died. I went back to the store where I purchased the plant and asked why this happened, and I learned that the leaves of a mosaic plant are extremely thin and it should not be put in direct light or the leaves will literally burn, much like how exposing our skin to the hot sun causes sunburn… Well, lesson learned.

Next, there are plants called succulents, and besides the fact that they are highly trendy right now, I would absolutely recommend them. Succulent plants store water in their thick and firm leaves. These plants are great for beginners because they only need to be watered every other week or sometimes only monthly. They’re very hard to kill . . . But these types of plants require direct sunlight, cannot be over watered, and will droop and become soft without proper care.

Lastly, preventing mold from growing in a plant’s soil has been quite a challenge of mine. Starting with fresh uncontaminated soil is very important. Also, you must make sure there is adequate drainage in your pot: a hole in the bottom or a layer of rocks. Placing a fan nearby can also help excess water evaporate, and using clay pots instead of glass allows for water to evaporate more easily.

Bio

I am in my fourth year at the Ohio State University studying accounting. I am very interested in the food industry and learning about food labels, production, and growing techniques in the US.

Ideas: www.homemydesign.com

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

Not Just in Our Fridge : Genetically Modified Orchids in our houses?

blue orchid

From Greenhouse Grower http://www.greenhousegrower.com/production/plant-culture/genetic-modification-produces-true-blue-orchid/

by Deniz Ozkardas, Psychology Major

It might seem that genetic engineering for Orchidacae family, popularly known as orchids is out of question.

However, breeding strategies, genetics and genetic engineering are very crucial for their commercial success.

Orchids are one of the species in which the breeding diversity occurs naturally. Relationship between orchid pollinator and flower, drifting and natural selection are one of the few that can explain such diversity.

Its reproductive strategies such as the release of millions of embryos to earth can be also accounted in why they became one of the most diverse species with estimation of 25.000> (Hsiao et al, 2011).

Yet their economic potential enforce breeders to reply needs of the market.

A selective method of breeding is used to preserve orchids genes. In order to acquire fragrant flowers or specific shapes (e.g harlequin orchids that are dotted), nurseries pick specific hybrids. Awarded orchids are cloned to ensure no mutations occur and such orchids are much more expensive since they are praised and regarded as rarities.

Since such breeding requires great time and effort, supermarkets often sell NOID breeds, which are an abbreviation for no identity. However, it must be noted that a more complex genetic engineering do exist in orchids rather than selective breeding.

Orchids varieties that have large flowers (> 4 in.), with less common, intense colors (e.g. red and orange) and a heavy substance, fragrance are classified as novelty (Bigleaforchids,2017). In their breeding, ploidy (def. number of sets of chromosomes in a cell) is detrimental in how the genes would show themselves.

For example, pod parent or pollen parent may determine the expression of dominant (visible) traits (Slippertalk, 2017). What this means is that breeders have to carefully assess genetic material and their expression. These techniques can be defined as advanced hybridizing and cloning technology.

Although these techniques are widely used today, the idea of genetic engineering in orchids is also currently investigated.

Dr. Masahiro Mii at Chiba University found that when flavonoid (def. plant compounds that include pigments in ranging color) 3’,5’-hydroxylase gene  was incorporated to phalaenopsis, it produced delphinidin which gives blue color.

Current research also demonstrates that fragrant species are conceptually possible. Since some desirable fragrances are very limited to certain species, this could mean a potential avenue for orchid growers in future (Chandler &Sanchez,2012).

In a probable future, GMO orchids will be in our homes as decorations.

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I am a Rising Sophomore at OSU and want to find out how plants and contemporary issues are intertwined.

References

BigLeafOrchids. (2017). Big Leaf Orchid forum • View topic – What Exactly is a Novelty Phalaenopsis…. [online] Available at: http://www.phalaenopsis.net/phpBB/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=8979 [Accessed 30 Jul. 2017].

Chang, Y. and Wang, Y. (2017). Genetic Modification Produces True Blue Orchid | Greenhouse Grower. [online] Greenhouse Grower.  [Accessed 30 Jul. 2017].

Chandler, S., & Sanchez, C. (2012). Genetic modification; the development of transgenic ornamental plant varieties. Plant Biotechnology Journal, 10(8), 891-903.

Hsiao, Yu-Yun, Pan, Zhao-Jun, Hsu, Chia-Chi, Yang, Ya-Ping, Hsu, Yi-Chin, Chuang, Yu-Chen, . . . Chen, Hong-Hwa. (2011). Research on Orchid Biology and Biotechnology. Plant and Cell Physiology, 52(9), 1467-1486.

Merriam-webster.com. (2017). Dictionary by Merriam-Webster: America’s most-trusted online dictionary. [online] Available at: https://www.merriam-webster.com [Accessed 30 Jul. 2017].

Phalaenopsis.net. (2017). Big Leaf Orchid forum • View topic – Lovely novelty Phalaenopsis. [online] Available at: http://phalaenopsis.net/phpBB/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=14968 [Accessed 30 Jul. 2017].

Slippertalk.com. (2017). Pollen versus Pod parent – Slippertalk Orchid Forum- The best slipper orchid forum for paph, phrag and other lady slipper orchid discussion!. [online] Available at: http://www.slippertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=17722 [Accessed 30 Jul. 2017].

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

The Unselfish Shellfish

by Abigail Newburger, Jewish Studies

In today’s world, people preserve fresh produce in various ways to protect its integrity during the journey from farm to market to table. Plastic containers, wraps, and preservatives are used to keep our fresh foods staying fresh. What is not so noticeable is the negative impact it has on the environment.

The waste from the food industry’s plastics have negative effects on the environment. These range from clogging water ways and harming aquatic life to creating waste that is non-biodegradable. A solution that could fix these problems is called Chitosan.

Chitosan is derived from Chitin found in the shells of shrimps and other crustaceans and can be transformed into coatings or pseudo-plastic wraps. These shells are discarded every day and are in abundant and recurring supply. Dr. Cait Murray-Green, the Chief Executive Officer of Cuantec (a Scottish company that specifically deals with developing Chitosan), says, “…there is enough chitosan in shellfish alone for the whole world to use Chitosan-based food packaging.”[1]

According to Associate Professor Thian Eng San from the National University of Singapore, “…increasing attention has been placed on the development of food packaging material with antimicrobial and antifungal properties, in order to improve food safety, extend shelf-life and to minimize the use of chemical preservatives.”[2]

Chitosan is biodegradable and preserves the integrity of fresh produce during the duration of its shelf-life. In fact, studies have proven that Chitosan also increases the shelf-life of produce because it has antimicrobial and antifungal properties.[3] By switching to Chitosan treatments and methods, there would be less waste from the food industry.

Plastics pollute water ways and are thrown into landfills where they create environmental issues. Looking worldwide, there are almost two hundred and eighty million tons of plastic produced per year, most of which ends up in landfills or the oceans.[4] The negative impacts of plastic after its primary use outweighs its positive applications.

Abigail Newburger is a fifth-year undergraduate student at The Ohio State University. Originally from Potomac, Maryland she is hoping to move back to the Greater Washington D.C. area to work in the nonprofit sector.

Sources:

A new force in the fight against food waste. (2017, March 7). Retrieved June 29, 2017, from https://www.strath.ac.uk/whystrathclyde/news/anewforceinthefightagainstfoodwaste/

Eco-friendly, chitosan-based food packaging material doubles shelf life of food products. (2016, February 23). Retrieved June 29, 2017, from https://phys.org/news/2016-02-eco-friendly-chitosan-based-food-packaging-material.html

Sakif, T.I., Dobriansky, A., Russell, K. and Islam, T. (2016) Does Chitosan Extend the Shelf Life of Fruits? Advances in Bioscience and Biotechnology, 7, 337-342. http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/abb.2016.78032

Sigler, M. (2014). The Effects of Plastic Pollution on Aquatic Wildlife: Current Situations and Future Solutions. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, 225(11). doi:10.1007/s11270-014-2184-6

[1] A new force in the fight against food waste. (2017, March 7). Retrieved June 29, 2017, from https://www.strath.ac.uk/whystrathclyde/news/anewforceinthefightagainstfoodwaste/

[2] Eco-friendly, chitosan-based food packaging material doubles shelf life of food products. (2016, February 23). Retrieved June 29, 2017, from https://phys.org/news/2016-02-eco-friendly-chitosan-based-food-packaging-material.html

[3] Sakif, T.I., Dobriansky, A., Russell, K. and Islam, T. (2016) Does Chitosan Extend the Shelf Life of Fruits? Advances in Bioscience and Biotechnology, 7, 337-342. http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/abb.2016.78032

[4] Sigler, M. (2014). The Effects of Plastic Pollution on Aquatic Wildlife: Current Situations and Future Solutions. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution, 225(11). doi:10.1007/s11270-014-2184-6

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

Share Agriculture’s Stories

by Alec Miller, Sustainable Plant Systems major

I just wanted to talk about how far the public is away from agriculture. Last summer I went to the Ohio State fair for a day. We were walking around and saw that the dairy barn had a cow outside and was showing the public where milk came from and how it was produced. I thought this was a very cool thing. What blew my mind is how many people did not know where the milk came from. To me it’s crazy to think people don’t know where their food comes from as if it just magically appears in the store. Us agriculturists need to step it up a little and help inform the public on what we do for a living and how passionate we are about doing it. The fair helps this but I think schools need to step their game up and help us out. I think our agriculture department needs to set up seminars and boots at the market to help inform people. How can people buy something without knowing what they are really buying? We farmers can help by inviting people out to our farms. I would gladly invite the public out and show them where the food comes from and why we do it. It’s not just for us but it’s for everyone we feed. The passion for farming is starting to decrease as the prices decrease. Left and right small farms are being bought out by the big farmers who are in it for the money. They don’t care that the public doesn’t know what they do as long as their check comes in the mail. So I believe we should come together and help inform everyone around us about what we do and why we do it.

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

The Damage of Weeping Willows

by Sierra Mayle, Animal Sciences major

Even the most beautiful and extensively breathtaking of nature and life itself sometimes brings about unforeseen implications. The Weeping Willow is one of those tress that has the capability to cause infrastructural damage and thousands of dollars in repair when not properly secured.

The elongated and unconventional root structure of this tree is one that can carry out its growth to compromise pavement, structures, or water and pipe lines.

How is this possible? Like the powerlines that make up our system of electricity, these trees have an intricate network of roots that can grow up to 100 feet from the trunk itself. The foliage that is produced can range from 45 to 70 feet wide.

Because there is such an elongated and complicated root system, they need to be planted in a spacious area. They hold the capacity to grow roots above and below ground, and preferably should be planted farther away from other trees to prevent root competition.

A preventative measure is using a system called root barriers. In essence, it prohibits the roots from destroying water or sewer lines. Physical barriers constructed from metal or plastic can help limit destruction of any structures or lines. It is important to note using plastic or metal barriers can obstruct proper water drainage in the soil. It has also been stated that wire mesh can be used.

Knowing that there are preventative measures, using barriers is most effective when they are buried at a length of at least 3 feet. In order for this system to be most effective, it will need to run the entirety of the structure to ensure the roots cannot grow around the placed barriers. When not installed properly, it only prolongs potential damage this tree can inflict.

Source

SF GATE: The Root System of a Weeping Willow

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Sierra Mayle is a junior at The Ohio State University, studying animal sciences. She likes to spend her time reading novels, playing video games, and playing with her three dogs and ferret. She does not enjoy fruits or vegetables.

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

Why Livestock Should be fed Genetically Modified Crops

by Ryan Jeon, Biological Engineering

Cow: Been there done that

Cow: Been there done that

One of the topics we learned in this class was the incredibly large issue of genetically modified organisms. Ranging from areas such as international policy, world hunger, businesses, to veterinary medicine, this technological innovation encapsulates a diverse range of global topics. One of which, is a growing area of concern: should we feed our livestock genetically modified crops?

Signs in field

More and more farm land is being urbanized and converted into land unsuitable for agriculture. Water resources have begun to dwindle, and recent legislation has caused food prices to shoot up. With all these problems, how can we create agricultural practices that allow us to grow sustainable food with dwindling land and water?

farm and city

Well genetically modified crops are plants that humans have purposefully changed to provide us with a trait that we want. Humans have been doing this for a long time, but now we’ve come to a technological innovation that allows us to combine fragments of DNA from bacteria and other organisms, with plants. This gives the plants unique benefits, such as larger yield, disease resistance, drought tolerant, or even something subtle, like requiring less land or water.

Opressive weather

“Opressive weather”

With the global population exponentially rising, these are important traits that are necessary to feed our growing population. Likewise, we need food that can feed our livestock, such as cattle and eggs. Genetically modified crops, like corn and wheat, can provide livestock with food that requires significantly less water and land. With our water resource draining away every day from livestock, in addition to more farmland being converted to suburbs or cities, we need crops and livestock that don’t require as much land. In addition, these plants can grow larger, faster, and more fruitful, allowing prices for crops to be cheaper.

However, from the public’s perspective, they’re going to want to know how this might affect them, their food, their family, or the environment.

Ideally the public may ask, with a curious mind,

Ted

“I’d like to know, will there be toxins from the eggs from chickens that are fed GMO corn?”

If they are worried, I’d tell them that it is important to understand that the FDA carefully regulates all food that enters the market. A research study done by UC Davis has concluded that there are no nutritional differences between beef that are fed GMO products and those that haven’t. In addition, the study shows that extensive research has been done to make sure that there is no residues from the GM crops that make it into the milk. There are no deadly prions, no DNA fragments, no nothing. It makes sense too-if it wasn’t safe to eat, then the FDA wouldn’t allow it without a warning sign. So enjoy your slightly-cheaper-steak without the worry that the cow it came from ate GM crops.

Ideally, they might say thank you for your time, and proceed to share their newly earned knowledge with other people.

But sometimes you might meet someone more like this . . .

Man Yelling

If that’s the case, there is an alternative option: organic beef.

"Organically Grown Cow"

“Organically Grown Cow”

 

Sources:

Raising Beef: factsaboutbeef.com/2013/09/03/safety-first-the-role-of-gmos-in-cattle-feed

 

Biography:

My name is Ryan and I am a 6th year bio-engineering student. I am minoring in both Animal Sciences and Pre-Veterinary Medicine, and I aspire to put my engineering skills to use in the veterinary world.

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.