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tv   Tech Know  Al Jazeera  August 22, 2015 6:30pm-7:01pm EDT

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orleans is on a good track, but the job is not done here. >> techknow investigates 10 years after katrina. genetically modified food sets off a new round of anger and fear. >> i should have punched you in the blank face. now "techknow" goes to the field where is scientists stay under the radar to conduct research. >> what if i told you that they were gmo strawberries. >> she'll show us the latest innovations. >> these tomatoes here are special tomatoes. >> and then we'll go inside the anti-gm movement.
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>> do you trust scientists. >> and you want to make a lab cocktail? >> that's our team. now let's do some science. >> hey guys, welcome to "techknow." i'm phil torres. guys, let's jump right into it. gmos just three letters but they hold a lot of debate. we're talking about genetically modified organisms. anything from bacteria, fish and giant trees. this debate targets science and scientists. >> it's true. the anti-gmo movement, it's got a lot of street credit. it's popular but it's anti---i don't know another way to put it, it's anti-science. >> i covered the march against monsato an o and i was hurt.
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>> as scientists we're trained to look at the data. that's what we try to keep in mind as we investigate genetically modified foods. >> genetically modified foods, a suspect that inspires controversy and fear. but one scientist is fighting back, trying to debunk one myth at a time. even if it means getting hate mail on a regular basis. >> i should have bunched you in the blank face when i had the chance. i come to florida. i'll make you and your family drink round up. stay out of florida. i hope you and your family get brain cancer so you can see what it's like. >> where does all of this anger come from? >> i think the idea is to intimidate. most scientists get this, and they're unlikely to reengage the public. >> he knows a thing or two about what goes in to genetically
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modified crops. he had the head of horticulture science in florida where researchers figure out new ways to grow fruits and vegetables. he's proud of the work but also protective. he asked us not to disclose the location of these fields in fear that activists would try to destroy them . >> the anti-gmo movement it global. in the eyes of many protesters monsanto, the largest creator of gmo seeds has become synonymous with the technology. corn, soy, papa i didn't, sugar beats, alfalfa, and squash comes from
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monsanto and do you upon th dupont. >> corporations don't do themselves a favor. we try to distell what does science tell us, and frequently it tells them a story they don't want to hear. >> one of those stories is about strawberries and how farmers in florida battle disease that is gm crops could eliminate. >> we look at strawberries there is a fungal pathogen and bacteria pathogen that devastated these plants. we look at how we can use the gmo type strategy. >> and in is that plant. it sat in the same greenhouse, with the same warm, same water but did not get sick. what is it about this plant that
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resists the bacteria. >> plants have systems that help aid against path against but these plants have a gene called npr 1. >> it's part of the strawberry immune system. but in gmo strawberries this gene is already turned on. >> this plant thinks that the infection is ongoing. it is born thinking that there is a problem. when that pathogen comes along that plant is way to go. >> but growers have a way to grow strawberries using synthetic fungicides and organic compound farmers use natural compounds like copper. is that a safe thing to ingest? >> no, it's a heavy metal.
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if you use it too much on the same soil, it has risks around water. something like that could be hugely valuable would be on an organic farm. maybe where you can't sues fungicides. >> but under u.s. guidelines farmers can't use gmo plants. >> you have shown proof of concept but they may never see a supermarket. >> what we're getting good at is creating good solutions that end up dying in the lab because of fear of the technology and very rig rigorous policies. >> a tomato could be the answer to a major problem. >> this is what bacteria does as it starts to take hold. >> this is the beginnings of it right here. >> a tomato breeder has been using genetic modification to battle a disease called bacteria
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spot. >> as it gets bigger the leaves get worse and worse. the lower leaves will start to die off and you'll have fruit on the bottom of the plants ex exposed. >> hutton thinks he has a gm solution. >> so these tomatoes here are special tomatoes, right? >> this whole trial has set up the trans genic. >> you're refer to go. >> in this cases a pepper gene taken outs of bell peppers and put in tomatoes that were not there originally. >> scientists have inserted a pepper gene known as the bs 2 into tomatoes to make them resistant to spot disease. >> do you think if this were to go to market regular consumers would be more comfortable about the idea of a gmo tomato that has genes from a pepper. >> we know the protein product.
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we know what it does. we know it's safe. a natural plant defense gene might come across more palatable to some people. >> palatable is key for researchers who hope crops which have been modified with only genes from other plants will lead the way towards gmo acceptance. >> that's the sad batter. there are only so many strawberries in the industry to produce money for farmers. >> this npr 1 strawberry is not deregulated. >> it's not deregulated. it looks delicious. it can't hurt you. you can't eat it. >> all right. >> coming up i learned how to make a gmo.
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>> we want to hear what you think about these stories. follow us on twitter
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>> few issues have so sharply divided scientists and the public. >> don't trust tell me it's safe. i won't believe it. >> 37% of americans believe gmo foods are safe. and 88% of scientists. >> scientists are trying to solve world food problems by genetically engineering them. are you against that? >> i don't believe that. i believe they're trying to modify foods so they can own it all. >> do you trust scientists?
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it sounds like you have an aversion to them. >> some of them can be trusted but a lot of them can't be trusted. >> in spite of assurances from scientists based on hundreds of peer-review studies in two decades that modified foods have become valuable three states have passed laws requiring label on all gm foods. >> the public needs to know when something is going in to the food that shouldn't be there. >> the anti-gm movement is well organized. there are plenty of groups, plenty of passion, and plenty of information. not all of it accurate. >> your. >> this couple blames monsanto for colony collapse syndrome, but when it came to facts they had few. >> what does gmo stand for?
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>> genetically modified-- >> genetically modified. >> it's definitely not organ. >> okay. much of the opposition has a target. giant monsanto or anyone associated with the company. ♪ i want a cup of for ca coffee ♪ ♪ but i don't want gmo ♪ >> this song lashed out against starbucks. it is part of an effort to overturn the labeling law. but young may be wrong. starbucks has not taken a position on gmo labeling. feeling the backlash food companies are increasingly jumping on the anti-gmo band wag. chipotle started to phase out gmo items from
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its menu. the gmo effect. "techknow" asked monsanto to participate in this report, but they declined. there is an information gap increasingly filled with seemingly credible allegations. >> they want to control the seeds all over the world. we believe they do weather manipulation, we know they're part of that if they can control the weather, they control the seeds, they control the world. >> if you make your focus to be anti-corporate, now you're slamming a technology that could be used by a guy like me or anybody else to solve problems for people who desperately need it. >> increasingly scientists have become the target of an anti-gm movement. at least four university researchers were served a freedom of information act order to release all of their university e-mails by groups called us right to know.
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one of them, a florida scientist who told their part of the story. >> what are they looking for? >> what they say is that we need to know how far the tentacles of collusion between the big a companies and university scientists, how deep these go and what they're sharing. >> are you funded by monsanto. >> my laboratory has no funding from monsanto or any of the big six: you could not pay me to fake data. >> but some information paint frightening science. >> they take viruses and bacteria and insect sides and put them in the dna of our food. they're not even food most of the time. >> in an effort to demystify the science behind gmos, he
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offered to show how to make strawberries using a tech neck called, that's right, agro bacteria. >> what it does is a natural part of the life cycle moves a piece of its genes into a plant. >> this is something that happens all the time in nature. >> it does. >> but there is not just ag ro bacterium in this, you've done something. >> yes, inserting the gene it wants, i've asked to insert the gene i want. now what we'll do is very simple. all we're going to do is add our plant pieces in that medium. >> do i do the same, too? >> yes. >> we'll give it a shake. let it sit, and we come back and it's done. >> that was pretty easy. we didn't hit it with any sort of radiation. we didn't use any scary chemicals. but this is plant tissue that is technically infected with a
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bacterium, but that bacterium has a property that is hopefully going to make the plant taste better? >> in this case it will change fruit firmness which is why we can't ship good-tasting strawberries because they're too soft. >> what will this grow up to look like? >> this is the after picture. >> these are so cute. >> vin tests can create a plant in months a process that can take conventional breeders years. and gm methods are more precise than conventional breeding. >> how many genes are being shuffled around when you're doing traditional breeding? >> well, each plant background might have 30 to 50,000 greens. >> when you're doing genetic modification how many genes are you moving around, one, two, maybe three. it's strange to me that we can mix together
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whole genomes, and that is conventional. but if i do one change, that's the franken paradox. >> coming up, the apple that
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>> i lived that character. >> go one on one with america's
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>> this might look like business as usual in the state of washington, but these trees planted in late spring 2015 are the first approved gm apple trees ever to grow on u.s. soil. the company would not reveal the exact location of the grow, but they did provide this footage. the apple is called the arctic apple. the company also gave us this time lapsed footage demonstrating the attributes of the fruit. the apple on the right has been genetically modified so despite the passage of time it does not brown when it's cut open. after 18 years of testing the apple got the stamp of approval from the fda, usda and epa. >> are these apples safe to eat. >> yes, they're safe to eat. they've been rigorously tested to a fault.
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>> the apples were created by engineering it's own dna to create less of an enzyme that causes browning. by controlling the production of ppo the scientists have created a non-browning apple. it sounds like a neat party trick, but will consumers bite? >> the arctic apple is important because it goes to the consumer rather than the farmer. this is a first product that bell' see targeted that way. >> i think of soccer moms bringing snacks to their children. are these soccer moms are going to be frowned upon that these apples are not turning brown, why is it? >> there will be a lot of soccer moms who will freak out, but then you have science moms, and science moms are a persuasive bunch. >> we want to know what people know and feel about gmos. we hit the streets and asked
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them, would you eat a gm fruit. >> if i were to send some strawberries home with you, you eat them? >> yes. >> what if i told you that they were modified strawberries would you eat them? >> it sounds freaky . >> what do you know about gmo gmos. >> i don't know much about gmos. >> what you say is what we hear from mothers. i worry about the health of my child. that's a common concern, and it's a common thought. do you know many people who have been sick or died from gmos over the 18 years they've been used. how would you feel if it was zero. >> a lot more comfortable. >> people are excited about technology whether it's in their phone or in their car. why is it weird if it's on their plate? scientists. how do we make them more comfortable using technology. >> what do you think it will
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take for theft to get wide acceptance? >> for me that acceptance will come when it's a trait that consumers can relate to. citrus may be the first domino. >> as first reported in 2014, a deadly disease called citrus greening devastated . >> would you eat this orange. >> yes. >> we're in florida and al almost all the trees are infected and dying. if it was a gene that came from spinach that you eat in all of your spinach salads, and you know it's safe because we've been eating it for years, how about that? >> i guess--i don't know, there is no other option if the orange trees are dying any ways. >> researchers at texas a&m have
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shown promising results by inserting a spinach gene into orange trees in order to make them resistant against disease. but it's a race against time. orange trees can take years to be planted and bear fruit. meanwhile 80% of florida's orange tre are infected and could be wiped out in a decade. a citrus researcher is working on solutions to speed up mother neur nature. lik nature. this lime gets its ruby color from another fruit. it's another gene that produces the red color in grapes. >> but the color is not just for fun. it helps to figure out if the gene transfers have been successful. >> we started working with that gene to use it as a selectable marker. you could have a culture dish with cells, and you could go in and choose the ones that are colored.
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>> this is really a way to in the earliest stages know which of your plants are--have the gene of interest, which ones don't. >> these purple lines have a second transgene taken from the fruit the clementine. it's called the ft gene. this allows citrus trees to mature faster. he showed me a three-month-old tree ling. >> if i looked at this as a layperson this is a cute little plant, buts but as a farmer this would blow mine mind. >> trees can take eight years before they flower and bear fruit. if scientists are able to age the citrus plants they can confirm this the orange is resistant to greening and save the orange.
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not to mention purple margaritas could be the next big thing. >> do you want a lab cocktail? >> fruits will have gm crocs waiting in the wings for when the public wants or needs them. >> we've learned that a disease shows up you better have something ready to combat it rather than looking for solution after the disease is there. >> we're talking about possibly having these gm foods end up at our homes. kara, you snuck a bite. >> it tasted like a strawberry. it was a really good strawberry. i don't think it was because genetically modified. it's because kevin knows how to grow a really good strawberry. >> i think the petry dish is going to scare people because it has to do with their food. >> when you see a petri dish you don't get hungry, but when you look at a field and it's your family farm, that's what we want to eat. >> one of the strongest things
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is the fact that the innovation is brilliant and the work that scientists do is brilliant. genetically modifying anything is pioneering, but we don't know the implications, and the implications are so complex. many degrees removed from just taking a gene. it's altering ecosystems, and we don't know how that is happeni happening. >> that's one of the struggles, the environmental implications that these things can potentially have. but if you look at the amount of pesticides or antibiotics or things like that that we're dumping into our ecosystems and we've been doing that for decades , it does not balance out. >> definitely. >> we'll continue to follow the science and the controversy to keep you up-to-date on the debate. that's it for now. join us next time here on techno. >> dive deep into these stories and go behind the scenes at www.aljazeera.com
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/"techknow." follow our contributers this is al jazeera america. i'm rochelle kerry in new york and here are today's top stories. >> i came to see my friends on my first trip in europe and we stopped a terrorist. kind of crazy. >> world praise today for three americans who helped to stop a suspected terrorist attack on a train traveling through france. more than 11,000 firefighters from across the country battle raging west coast wildfires. hundreds are as far assed from

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