genetic engineering

Microbiologist Mary-Dell Chilton works in her lab at Syngenta.

Mary-Dell Chilton pioneered the field of genetic engineering in agriculture.

She has spent most of her decades-long career working for Syngenta, where she founded the agribusiness company's research on genetically modified seeds.

But Chilton started out in academia. And it was here in St. Louis, at Washington University, that she led the team that created the first genetically-modified plants in the early 1980s.

(via WashU/copyright PNAS)

Researchers at Washington University have genetically-engineered cells to react to light.

By taking light-sensing receptors from the eye — called opsins — and inserting them into immune cells, the researchers were able to trick the cells into moving toward a laser beam, in the same way they would move toward a bacterial infection.

Washington University molecular biologist N. Gautam led the research.

In the fairy-tale world, a shiny red apple can lead to a poisonous end. But some see two genetically engineered green apple varieties, poised to become the first to gain U.S. Department of Agriculture approval, as similar harbingers of doom.

(via Flickr/A Comment)

Monsanto is leading the fight to block a California ballot initiative that would require labeling of food with genetically modified ingredients.

(via Flickr/snebtor)

Insect scientists say federal regulators need to take action against a growing pest problem in biotech corn.

They say corn rootworm has started to become resistant to Monsanto's Bt corn, which is genetically engineered to resist the damaging and costly pest.

The 22 scientists expressed their concerns in a letter sent to EPA earlier this week. 

University of Illinois insect behaviorist Joseph Spencer was one of them.

Monsanto is entering a multi-year research collaboration with San Diego-based Sapphire Energy.

Sapphire specializes in genetically-engineering algae with the goal of producing drop-in replacements for fuels like gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

The collaboration between Sapphire and Monsanto will focus on identifying genes that positively affect growth in algae and that might also increase agricultural crop yields.