Comment on TALON Talk: GMOs, For the better or the worse? by jcho

Merci beaucoup! I appreciate your feedback. Kevin asked a really similar question, so I’ll copypasta the answer I gave him.
Allergies from GM crops are caused due to the addition of a foreign protein. When we genetically modify crops. we add a specific gene to it that produces a desired protein that carries the desired trait. This gene could come from anywhere, and the protein created from the information in the gene can be a protein that was never meant for human consumption. In the case with the woman who got an anaphylactic reaction from the corn tortilla, the addition of a gene that contained the information to create the protein Cry9C, a protein NOT approved for human consumption and typically found in common ground bacteria, caused an anaphylactic reaction. Basically what this means is that we could be eating a nice, juicy piece of GM watermelon and get an anaphylactic reaction due to a protein found in soy. Since then, however, many laws have been introduced and all new GM crops are approved for human consumption before hitting the markets.
While I don’t know of any specific cases of farmers or scientists unintentionally creating a GM with a different positive effect than what was initially expected, the whole process of creating a GM crop involves quite a bit of trial and error, even with a standardized procedure. Scientists could be removing pieces of the seed to see which gene is causing the desired trait, and unintentionally discover a different trait that was positively impacting the plant. I apologize for not being able to give you a definitive answer, but I hope I answered at least a part of your question.

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Comment on TALON Talk: GMOs, For the better or the worse? by jcho

Thank you for your feedback! I found my initial explanation of Agrobacterium Tumefaciens to be a bit too complicated, so I decided to add the Trojan horse analogy. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
The addition of the allergen inducing protein is simply a consequence of adding a foreign gene. Cry9C, the protein that caused the anaphylactic reaction, is also a biological pesticide. Back then, there was a risk of the protein being an allergen as it lingered in the digestive system. We could remove these proteins, or just not put them in to begin with, but if we do, the biological pesticide trait of the plant will also be lost. Nowadays, we make sure that the GM crop is fit for human consumption before it hits the markets, so the chances of this occurring again is very low.

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Comment on TALON Talk: GMOs, For the better or the worse? by jcho

Thank you for your comment! Your question was one of the many questions that came up during my inquiry, and unfortunately, I can only tell you that there really isn’t one answer to it. Many anti-GMO websites claim that GM crops have less nutritional value. Theoretically, this could be true. Foreign genes could increase phytate levels, a compound that binds with minerals and makes them unavailable to humans, decreasing the mineral nutritional value. From the other perspective, GM crops have the same nutritional value as non-GM crops, if not more. GM crops could actually increase the nutritional value of crops. Golden rice is currently a GM rice in development that has high amounts of vitamin A and may potentially help areas with vitamin A deficiency. I apologize for not being able to give a straightforward answer to your question, but I hope illustrating the two perspectives answered at least a part of your question.

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Comment on TALON Talk: GMOs, For the better or the worse? by jcho

Thank you for your comment! Before I answer your question, I would like to add that the population hitting 9.6 billion is a relatively conservative estimate. Norman Borlaug, my eminent person, and many other biotechnologists predict the world population to exceed 10 billion by 2050. Also, the 51% is also an extremely conservative estimate. Of the 37% of land used for agriculture, only 3.5% is wholly suitable for organic agriculture. We couldn’t possibly expect the same yields from Siberia, the Canadian Arctic, or expect China to feed it’s 1.3 billion population when only 15% of it’s land is arable.
I apologize for being Hamilton, I shall now answer your question.
While there is voluntary labeling of GMO’s in Canada, it’s not mandatory, so many farmers choose not to label their crops. In the case of your tomato, however, you should be fine. Only a few GM crops are grown in Canada. Corn, soy, canola, and sugar beets. We do get imports from the US, however, and we get GM papaya, GM squash, and GM cottonseed oil. Laws may change in the future, and hopefully corporations will be more willing to label their GM crops, but as of now, you can eat that tomato in peace.

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Comment on TALON Talk: GMOs, For the better or the worse? by jcho

Your kind words flatter me, sir. I’m glad you found my dress shirt aesthetically pleasing, as white with stripes was something I carefully calculated to add to the effectiveness of my TED talk.

Allergies from GM crops are caused due to the addition of a foreign protein. When we genetically modify crops. we add a specific gene to it that produces a desired protein that carries the desired trait. This gene could come from anywhere, and the protein created from the information in the gene can be a protein that was never meant for human consumption. In the case with the woman who got an anaphylactic reaction from the corn tortilla, the addition of a gene that contained the information to create the protein Cry9C, a protein NOT approved for human consumption and typically found in common ground bacteria, caused an anaphylactic reaction. Basically what this means is that we could be eating a nice, juicy piece of GM watermelon and get an anaphylactic reaction due to a protein found in soy. Since then, however, many laws have been introduced and all new GM crops are approved for human consumption before hitting the markets.

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Comment on TALON Talk: GMOs, For the better or the worse? by jcho

Thanks for your feedback! It was interesting to see the similarities and differences in our TED talks.
Answering your question, I’m going to copy-pasta part of the answer I gave to Dylan and add a bit more to it, since he asked a similar question.
Since we need to take the desired gene from another existing organism with the desired trait, we are limited in the number of traits. We would need to find a gene in another organism that has the specific trait. For example, we could take the gene from a perennial and insert it into the GM crop. Currently, however, we don’t have the technology to do this.

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Comment on TALON Talk: GMOs, For the better or the worse? by jcho

Thank you for your comment! For your first question, I could be Hamilton and write an essay, but I’ll just give the general answer. Since we need to take the desired gene from another existing organism with the desired trait, we are limited in the number of traits. Also, the process of editing GMOs is extremely costly (the average GMO takes over 10 years to develop and costs millions of dollars), and sometimes adding a gene can result in undesirable consequences. Previous GM plant projects had to be abandoned due to health concerns, and because the financial risk is so high, if the success rate is low, scientists usually choose not to risk modifying the plant. Basically, there’s a financial extent.
Answering your second question, GM crops can be used improve climate change. Organic farming methods use 40% more land than conventional farming methods, and certain GM crops can have yields three times larger than conventional crops. At the very least, GM crops would save 21 893 492 square kilometers (a little less than the size of the United States and Canada combined) than organic farming methods, potentially saving forests from being turned into trees. Trees, release oxygen during photosynthesis, and more trees means less carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Also, with climate change and rising temperatures, GM crops would be very beneficial to us, as we could engineer them to adapt to rising temperatures.

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Comment on Talons Ted Talk by jcho

A really engaging TED talk! There were some high-quality puns at the beginning that certainly caught my attention. I like how you gave the different perspectives on the matter and showed the pros and cons of using insects as a sustainable food source. Meat isn’t a very sustainable food source, and we can’t just expect everyone to go vegan or enforce drastic population control. Eating insects, however, was not something I had in mind, and that made your topic and perspective really interesting. Additionally, your ability to provide statistics and comparisons left a stronger impact on me than if you were to just give me numbers. For example, livestock accounting for 18% of greenhouse gases doesn’t seem like that big of a number, but when you compared it to the greenhouse gases from cars, ships, and planes, I could clearly see that it was a significant percentage.

The TED talk itself is really easy to follow along. Your tone, pace, pauses, and proper enunciation made your TED talk easy to understand, and I was able to catch all the main points pretty quickly. Also, while this is a personal opinion, your voice was very engaging and allured me into your TED talk.

While I can’t say that I will start adding crickets to my diet anytime soon, your TED talk has made me consider eating them in the future, corroborating how effective your TED talk was. From your video, I have a few questions. How long do you think it will take before we see insects in our regular grocery store? Are there any health concerns that come with eating insects?

Overall, your TED talk was interesting to watch! Minimal text and lots of visuals helped with understanding the different concepts in the video, and your ability to provide evidence and connect it with your points made your talk seem very credible.

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Comment on KEV Talks by jcho

Engaging, interactive, and interesting. Your hook caught my attention and left me with a question that would be answered throughout the video, which was really engaging. The structure and organization all make sense and flow nicely throughout the video. Transitions between points are fluid and nothing feels rigid. I like how you elaborated and backed up the numbers in your talk instead of just giving us numbers to consider. By going more “in-depth” into the 1-4%, you showed the significance of the percentage, and how that affected us. It’s easy to assume that interbreeding with a primitive or “backwards” version of us can result in only negative consequences, but you showed both the advantages and disadvantages of interbreeding with Neanderthals and cleared up some common fallacies.

During the video, you said that Neanderthals had interbred with modern humans. By modern humans, are you referring to Homo Sapiens Sapiens or just all Homo Sapiens in general? Also, why would modern humans choose to breed with primitive versions of themselves with larger eyebrow ridges (although beauty is subjective)?

While your voice wasn’t monotonous, I think you could have adjusted your tone, pause lengths, and pace throughout the video to “spice” up your talk and make it a bit more engaging. Other than that, this was an excellent TED talk with tons of interactive visuals.

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Comment on TED Talk by jcho

Très bien! Your TED talk was well researched and gave insight into the dangers of PM. In Canada, with our low population and gigantic land mass, we don’t really have high PM with the exception of wildfires, but in places like Korea, Japan, and China, it’s very much a reality, as pointed out in your TED talk. Additionally, I like how you compared the advantages and disadvantages of different solutions, showing that there really wasn’t a simple solution to the issue. What really differentiated your TED talk from the other ones I watched was your anecdotal introduction. Asking a question is short and can be very effective, but from my research, I found that many professional TED talks used an anecdotal introduction. It’s always interesting to listen to someone’s story, and your anecdotal was no exception. It gave insight into what life was like in countries with high concentrations of PM 2.5 and was connected to your TED talk in a smooth and fluid way.

Tone, pace, and pauses were good. There were a few spots where your tone seemed to question what you were saying, and I’m not sure if you did this one purpose or not, but other than that, there aren’t any other wishes.

From your TED talk, I wonder if geographical features can limit the concentration and spread of PM 2.5. I know that in Gangwon Do in South Korea, the PM levels tend to be quite low compared to the rest of the country, and it is a mountainous region. Could geographical features, such as mountains, limit the concentration of PM levels? Also, from what I know, PM 2.5 is still heavier than air, although it does stay in the air longer. Would that result in there being higher concentrations in lower sections of air, and how would this affect children, whose body stature is much shorter?

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