Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Caroline and I am a PhD student at the University of Sheffield. My research project focuses on Striga - a genus of parasitic plants that devastates harvests by infecting food crops. I am exploring the defence reactions that can make host plants more resistant against Striga. Due to my ongoing battles with anorexia, I haven't made as much progress as I would have liked but I am determined to finish the course.

This blog charts the ups and downs of life in the lab, plus my dreams to become a science communicator and forays into public engagement and science policy....all while trying to keep my mental and physical health intact. Along the way, I'll also be sharing new plant science stories, and profiles of some of the researchers who inspire me on this journey. So whether you have a fascination for plants, are curious about what science research involves, or just wonder what exactly I do all day, read on - I hope you find it entertaining!

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Getting it off my Chest...

Today I had a chance to have my opinion presented to David Cameron, courtesy of the 'Your Voice Campaign'. This tours universities with a mobile video recording booth, in which students can rant and rage as much as they like before the videos are edited down and sent to our PM. I'll admit that I was originally lured over by the free basil plants but Jason soon talked me into going inside ( I would bet that he had a whole training course in talking people into it...).

So what did I decide it talk about? GM plants. I believe that it is irresponsible for the government to ignore the potential of this technology to address key concerns including food security, climate change and the energy crisis. I also feel that public opinion has been allowed to turn against GM technology on the basis of vigorous anti- campaign groups rather than a balanced representation of the facts. I do not mind if someone is against GM crops, as long as they have had all the information to make an informed judgement. And I agree that the technology needs to be demonstrated to be safe before applied on a commercial agricultural scale. So what do I want?
 * for the government to invest in transferring Gm technology from the lab to the field, including extensive field trials to evaluate safety risks, etc.
* for greater representation of he potential benefits of GM technology in public media outlets and also a platform for wider debate

No doubt, not everyone reading this will agree. For myself, I am surprised that the Green Party is so decided against GM crops when one of their manifestos is to reduce the application of pesticides on crops. Using GM technology to engineer plants with highly tailored, innate resistance against specific pests only, could avoid the blanket use of pesticides which devastate so much natural wildlife. Surely GM crops can't be an entirely bad thing if they help to preserve the native bees, bugs and butterflies that our biodiversity depends on?

Rant over! If you want to join in, comments below please!

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