While skimming the many posts related to GMO on SANET over the last
several weeks (there are just too many to read them all)...several things
have come to mind...
I am reminded of an analogy that I read in 1994 comparing the rapidly
expanding biotechnology industry to a massive elephant that is
seeking shelter and has to choose between 2 different
structures... one structure (representing the industrial ag paradigm) is
very large and can certainly fit the elephant... but this structure is
very unstable, with massive but poorly connected walls built on a poor
The other structure (representing sustainable ag) is much smaller but it
has a solid foundation and well integrated design...
The dilemma for the elephant is that if it enters the big
structure it may become trapped as the structure collapses around it and
if it tries to enter the small structure it may smash it because the
elephant is simply too massive... one option the elephant has but does not
seem inclined towards is going on a serious diet so that it can fit
comfortably into the small sustainable structure...
I currently don't recall where I read this but think that I have recounted
the analogy fairly accurately (Is anyone else familiar with this analogy
I am also reminded of something I read about the difference between
biotechnology and bioteknowledgy... biotechnology being the use of science
(perhaps specifically recombinant DNA techniques) solely for the
development of profitable products while bioteknowlegy is use of the same
science to primarily increase fundamental understanding of biological
I am wondering if there are any crop breeders amongst the SANET
Do crop breeders with a strong interest in
sustainable ag think that we should let a slimmed down bioteknowledgy
elephant into our sustainable ag structure ?
Can we use the powerful tools of molecular biology to
improve the sustainability of agriculture ?... I think that the
sustainable ag community is rightfully wary of the massive biotechnology
elephant... but we need to articulate our concerns with precision... and
we need to be open to the possibility of some applications
of bioteknowledgy fostering improved agricultural sustainability...
Most of you are familiar with
Wes Jackson and his vision of perennial polyculture modeled after the
prairie ecosystem... at a recent soil quality summit hosted by the Land
Institute, Jackson seemed quite interested in using recombinant
techniques to facilitate the breeding of perennial grains...
Well... enough ideas for now... looking forward to your commments...
Soil Quality Research
U of MD
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