Escondido, CA

Scientist’s project aims at GMO’s unruly DNA

Beware genetically modified organ­isms!

Escondido teen Jacob Lloyd is threat­ening to make the sometimes dangerous transmission of genetically modified or­ganisms’ DNA a thing of the past.

Lloyd, who is entering his senior year at San Pasqual High School, is launch­ing a project to change how GMOs are made, and incorporate new safeguards.

“One of the problems facing GMO crops is the spread of modified DNA by cross-pollination with non-GMO crops or species in the wild,” Lloyd said.

“This could have financial repercus­sions for farmers and could promote the development of herbicide-resistant su­perweeds,” he said. “The cool thing is that there are lots of other parts of the cell which contain DNA other than the nucleus,” he said. “And since pollen only has nuclear DNA we can use those other parts to our advantage. Modifying the DNA that can’t be spread cuts out the dangers of cross-pollination entirely.”

Current methods for introducing DNA into those other parts of the cell don’t work well.

Lloyd’s goal is to develop a more effective alternative to those methods, making it easier for crop scientists to keep the modified DNA out of pollen.

He is currently seeking support for his project through the crowdfund­ing site (see “ safergmos” saferg­mos).

He has raised 62 percent of the $3,500 he needs to acquire to buy such things as polymerase DNA enzymes, growth media for cultures, gel elec­trophoresis, DNA purification kits and DNA sequencing services.

‘It’s been great to see so much inter­est,” he said. “I think people realize that a lot of good can come out of this.”

Lloyd hopes to publish his findings so that others may use it to develop safer GMO crops.

This, his science fair project, is due in mid-October.

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