Do genetically modified plants contain animal genes?

Good question.  We have been asked this question many times and have been told in-fanatically by many well meaning folks that GMO’s  in our current food contain animal genes.  Work is being done to produce medical solutions from plants using animal gene makers but mostly for bio-medical benefits The following is a excerpt from a clear explanation  of what is going on with GMO technology in our foods vs the hysteria concerning “Frakin-plants or insects such as”, etc.

The following is a summary of an fact based article which lays out the real science.

“”There have been some experiments involving inserting animal genes into plants, but none of those experiments have resulted in GMOs that are being grown for food anywhere. There is the classic case of an antifreeze gene from fish put into tomatoes to try to increase cold tolerance, but that experiment was never commercialized. Ventria Biosciences has a rice plant which produces human lysozyme, which is an enzyme that destroys certain kinds of bacteria, and is found in tears, saliva, ear wax, etc. They are trying to develop a cheap way to produce lysozyme to prevent diarrhea in developing countries. I’m not sure what the status of their project is, but I know the rice with the human lysozyme gene exists.There is also a genetically engineered carrot culture that produces an enzyme to treat Gaucher’s Disease but it is grown as a culture of cells in a vat, and not as carrot plants.””

“”Moving genes between animals and plants often brings up the “ick” factor with many people, and as a result there were some USDA projects to biofortify maize with iron that were discontinued because they involved animal genes. All life shares a common ancestor, and sometimes genes move between different species, and even between kingdoms in nature. The golden pea aphid is an insect that makes its own Vitamin A thanks to genes it picked up from a fungus. It is very fascinating. It makes you wonder, is the aphid now part fungus? Or is it still just an animal with borrowed genes? Can we consider them to be fungal genes anymore, or are they now aphid genes?””

Now that we are done with the philosophy, back to the science. There are no plants grown for food crops anywhere in the world that we are aware of that have been approved for human food or animal feed that contain genes taken from animals via genetic engineering. Most GMOs on the market use genes from microorganisms or other plants, and in the case of some GMO animals, they contain genes from other (or the same) animals.

Bee virus spread is humanmade, driven by European honeybee populations

February 4, 2016
University of Exeter
The spread of a disease that is decimating global bee populations is humanmade, and driven by European honeybee populations, new research has concluded.

Varroa on pupa.
Credit: Professor Stephen Martin, University of Salford

The spread of a disease that is decimating global bee populations is humanmade, and driven by European honeybee populations, new research has concluded.

A study led by the University of Exeter and UC Berkeley and published in the journal Science found that the European honeybee Apis mellifera is overwhelmingly the source of cases of the Deformed Wing Virus infecting hives worldwide. The finding suggests that the pandemic is humanmade rather than naturally occurring, with human trade and transportation of bees for crop pollination driving the spread.

Although separately they are not major threats to bee populations, when the Varroa mite carries the disease, the combination is deadly, and has wiped out millions of honeybees over recent decades. Varroa feed on bee larvae while the Deformed Wing Virus kills off bees, a devastating double blow to colonies. The situation is adding to fears over the future of global bee populations, with major implications for biodiversity, agricultural biosecurity, global economies, and human health.

The study was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and supported by a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship. It involved collaborators from the universities of Sheffield, Cambridge, Salford and California, as well as ETH Zurich in Switzerland.

Lead author Dr Lena Wilfert, of the University of Exeter’s Centre for Ecology and Conservation, on the Penryn Campus in Cornwall, said: “This is the first study to conclude that Europe is the backbone of the global spread of the bee killing combination of Deformed Wing Virus and Varroa. This demonstrates that the spread of this combination is largely humanmade — if the spread was naturally occurring, we would expect to see transmission between countries that are close to each other, but we found that, for example, the New Zealand virus population originated in Europe. This significantly strengthens the theory that human transportation of bees is responsible for the spread of this devastating disease. We must now maintain strict limits on the movement of bees, whether they are known to carry Varroa or not. It’s also really important that beekeepers at all levels take steps to control Varroa in their hives, as this viral disease can also affect wild pollinators.”

Researchers analysed sequence data of Deformed Wing Virus samples across the globe from honeybees and Varroa mites, as well as the occurrence of Varroa. They used the information to reconstruct the spread of Deformed Wing Virus and found that the epidemic largely spread from Europe to North America, Australia and New Zealand. They found some two-way movement between Europe and Asia, but none between Asia and Australasia, despite their closer proximity. The team also looked at samples from other species suspected of transmitting the disease, including different species of honeybee, mite and bumblebees, but concluded that the European honeybee was the key transmitter.

Professor Roger Butlin, Professor of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Sheffield, said: “Our study has found that the deformed wing virus is a major threat to honeybee populations across the world and this epidemic has been driven by the trade and movement of honeybee colonies.

“Domesticated honeybee colonies are hugely important for our agriculture systems, but this study shows the risks of moving animals and plants around the world. The consequences can be devastating, both for domestic animals and for wildlife. The risk of introducing viruses or other pathogens is just one of many potential dangers.”

Senior author Professor Mike Boots of Exeter and UC Berkeley concluded: “The key insight of our work is that the global virus pandemic in honeybees is humanmade not natural. It’s therefore within our hands to mitigate this and future disease problems.”

The report, “Deformed wing virus is a recent global epidemic in honeybees driven by Varroa mites,” is published in Science on Friday February 5, by L.Wilfert, G Long, H.C. Leggett, P Schmid-Hempel, R. Butlin, S.J.M Martin and M Boots.

Holiday Sweet Treats

Honey Holiday Caremels
(Recipe adapted from

  • 1 cup of butter
  • 2 cups of honey
  • 2 cups of whipping cream
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Choped almonds or sea salt (optional)

1. Line 9-inch square pan with plastic wrap.
2. Melt butter over medium-high heat. Add honey, cream and brown sugar; cook until mixture comes to boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and continue boiling, stirring frequently, until candy thermometer registers 250°F to 255°F, about 45 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla; pour into prepared pan.
4. Let cool completely in refrigerator before cutting into individual caramels.
5. Roll in chopped nuts or sprinkle sea salt, and wrap each individually in clear plastic wrap.
6. Store, tightly wrapped in refrigerator up to 1 month. Caramels will be soft at room temperature and firm if kept chilled.

Is it really honey?

Raw Honey vs Processed Honey

Raw honey is honey in its purest filtered or not heated above natural hive temperatures. Raw honey is a natural source of vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and even antioxidant-rich vitamin C. It also contains minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium chlorine, sulfur, and phosphate.

So what is the difference between raw honey and the honey that can be purchased at the local supermarket?

Nearly all honey purchased in the market place is heated to some degree, filtered, and/or even pasteurized.

Filtered honey, must be heated so it becomes less viscous and easier to pump through the filter.

Heat destroys the natural enzymes, vitamins, and proteins in honey. Filtering and processing eliminates many of the beneficial phytonutrients including pollen and enzyme-rich propolis and the pollen that has been denatured by the heating process.

Scientific proof that micron filtered honey removes pollen was found in a study by the Palynology Research Laboratory at Texas A&M University. In the study, 60 honey products from supermarkets and grocery stores were tested and it was found that 76% contained no trace of pollen. This means that the vast majority of the honeys sold at grocery stores has little micro- nutritional benefits.

Ironically, the USDA encourages honey packers to filter their honey. They even give higher grades to honey that is clear and pollen free. Interestingly enough, despite the USDA encouraging the ultra filtering of honey, the FDA specifies that honey needs to contain pollen to be considered honey… hmm!

The solution is to know your source of the honey and the beekeeper to insure you have honey which is produced with minimum of intervention.


Neonicotinoid Conference Notes and Presentations Now Available!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015 the California Center for Urban Horticulture hosted a conference on the effects of Neonicotoids with the theme of : Truth or Myth? Neonicotinoids and Their Impact on Pollinators: What is the ScienceBased Research?
The results of the conference can be found on there FBook and host site.  The conference presented a wide range of views and in the end focused on the idea of fact based discussions re neonicotinoids in the broader context of science based research and fact finding not hīˈpərbəlē/ found in many of the discussions we see on the internet and mis-informed media outlets.

Neonicotinoid Conference Notes and Presentations Now Available!

Coming soon, photos on our facebook page!

Click on a Topic name to view a summary of that presentation:

Overview of Current Use of Neonicotinoids and the Role of Pollinators in California Agriculture

Dr. Michael Parrella, Professor & Chair – Department of Entomology and Nematology  UC Davis

California Pesticide Regulation of Neonicotinoids

Brian Leahy, Director-CA Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR)

Neonicotinoid Risks Associated with Invasive Species Management

Nick Condos, Director-CA Dept. of Food and Agriculture, Plant Health Division

Trends in Neonicotinoid Usage in CA Agriculture Invasive Species Control

      Dr. Karen Jetter, Associate Project Economist – UC Agricultural Issues Center

“Past” Neonicotinoid & Pollinator Research and Reference Listing

Margaret “Rei” Scampavia, Doctorial Candidate– Department of Entomology and Nematology , UC Davis

“Current” Neonicotinoid & Bee Research

Dr. Elina Lastro Niño, Extension Apiculturist – Department of Entomology and Nematology, UC Davis

Panel on Neonicotinoid Issues and Concerns

– Nasser Dean, Bayer CropScience
– Aaron Dillion, CA Assoc. of Nurseries and Garden Centers & Four Winds Growers

Watermelon-Lime Coolers


Watermelon-Lime Coolers

12 cups seedless watermelon (cubed from a 6-lb. melon)
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
Watermelon cubes, for garnish, optional

1. In a blender, puree watermelon and ARDEN HILLS GOLD honey, in batches, until smooth. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl and strain, pressing gently to squeeze out juice. Discard pulp.
2. Transfer to a pitcher and stir in lime juice. Garnish each glass with watermelon cubes, if desired.

Fair and Balanced Questions Need to be asked _ the key word is “balanced” …

American Bee Journal Extra

June 5, 2015

Bee Warned – Study Finds Pesticides

Threaten Native Pollinators


ITHACA, N.Y. – A new Cornell study of New York state apple orchards finds that pesticides harm wild bees, and fungicides labeled “safe for bees” also indirectly may threaten native pollinators.

The research, published June 3 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, finds the negative effects of pesticides on wild bees lessens in proportion to the amount of natural areas near orchards.

Thirty-five percent of global food production benefits from insect pollinators, and U.S. farmers have relied almost exclusively on European honey bees.

“Because production of our most nutritious foods, including many fruits, vegetables and even oils, rely on animal pollination, there is an intimate tie between pollinator and human well-being,” said Mia Park, an assistant professor at the University of North Dakota and the paper’s first author, who worked on the study as a Cornell entomology graduate student. Co-authors include professor Bryan Danforth and associate professor John Losey, both in entomology.

The researchers studied 19 New York state apple orchards over two years, 2011 and 2012. They determined the health of bee populations by analyzing the numbers of wild bees and honey bees and the number of species for each orchard. They also created an index of pesticide use from low to high use, then quantified the amount of natural areas that surrounded each orchard.

“We found there is a negative response of the whole bee community to increasing pesticide use,” Park said, adding that fungicides also are contributing to the problem.

The effects of pesticides on wild bees were strongest in the generation that followed pesticide exposure, Park said, possibly suggesting pesticides affect reproduction or offspring. Park said her research only looked at one generation to the next, and more study is needed. The study found no effect of pesticides on honey bees, but European honey bee hives are brought in to an orchard for short periods during blossoming then removed. In addition, growers are careful not to spray while honey bees are in the area. “Honey bees may have shown a response if they were allowed to stay,” Park said.

“Our studies of wild bees in apple orchards are showing how important wild bees are for apple pollination in the eastern U.S.,” said Danforth. With more than 20,000 known bee species, native bees are abundant and diverse in many agricultural habitats, and likely pollinate watermelons, squashes, blueberries and other orchard crops, he said.

Excerpts from Bee Symposium 2015 : Keeping Bees Healthy

The theme that kept resonating throughout the symposium hosted by the UCD Pollinating Center was  there is no single “smoking gun” regarding honey bee health and that nutrition, bee genetics, and GMP’s were the backbone to keeping bees healthy.  The  is an example of the grounded discussions that took place _ no one was thrown under the proverbial bus that is so commonly found in the general media and blog-o-sphere.  The full proceeding can be found online.

“Neonicotinoid Pesticides and Declines in Honey Bee Health; Will a Ban Solve the Issue?” _  a poster session

(This poster is based on the 2014 UC Davis Debate Team topic for the Endangered Species Act 2014 meeting.) Over the past decade, there have been public concerns over large losses in domesticated honey bee populations. These losses could threaten honey production and, more importantly, pollination services for crops such as almonds, stone fruits, and berries. Researchers have worked feverishly to identify the most salient factors contributing to these declines. The introductions of Varroa destructor, Nosema ceranae, and Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus have coincided with the onset of colony collapse disorder (CCD) and are suspected to play a role in these losses. Calls to ban neonicotinoids, a relatively new class of insecticides, overlook the fact that the magnitude of the relationship between pesticides and CCD remains disputed. Numerous studies that implicate neonicotinoids as a cause of CCD are insufficient in rigor and depth. Other classes of pesticides, including those used to control hive pests and fungal diseases, have been found to impact honey bee health and performance. Part of the perceived pollinator crisis stems from the monetization of ecosystem services, as our reliance on the honey bee shifts from demand for honey production to agricultural pollination. However, the reliance on pollinator services does not come from its necessity for overall food stability, but rather for the production of certain specialty crops. In instances where crops require pollination, stable populations of alternative pollinators can compensate for possible honey bee losses. Given the current state of knowledge, we argue that banning neonicotinoids is a premature and disproportionate response to a complex issue.”

“The Honey and Pollination Center  mission is to help make UC Davis the world’s leading authority on honey bee health, pollination, and honey quality.stablished in October 2012, the Honey and Pollination Center has continually grown its programmatic initiatives to help establish UC Davis as the world’s leading authority on bee health, pollination and honey quality.

This Bee Symposium is the culmination of a yearlong collaboration with the Department of Entomology and Nematology. The center plans to make the Bee Symposium an annual event, bringing top researchers to UC Davis.
The California Master Beekeeping Program was funded by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Course development is underway, guided by UC Davis Cooperative Extension apiculturist Elina Niño. This series of courses will help educate and strengthen the state’s beekeeping population through mentoring and hands-on experience.
Working with the Department of Viticulture and Enology, the center is developing a set of courses to meet the needs of mead makers at all levels, from beginners to commercial mead makers.
The Department of Food Science and Technology is collaborating with the center on honey authenticity research. This interest was enhanced by the publication of the Honey Flavor Wheel in summer 2014. The wheel has been featured at national honey tastings, in magazines and books, and online. The Honey and Pollination Center’s impact will increase as we forge stronger relationships with our university collaborators”