>> We are beginning to use powerful genetic and informational
>> tools to gain understanding of the biology underlying quality
>> and yield. This understanding is necessary to make much new
> I would hope that the new progress you speak of is not
> dependant on transgenetic technologies; that is,
> technologies that can NOT be performed within the framework
> of evolutionary, biological (rather than mechanical, surgical)
I'm still not sure you have adequately defined "transgenic." I guess I
would define it as taking pieces of DNA from one species and inserting them
into the germline of different species.
If you will go along with that definition, then the progress I am speaking
about is not only transgenic. For example, I work with seed vigor and
germinability. We know there are genetic factors involved, but we don't
understand them very well. A lot of the Pioneer germplasm is good in this
regard, but we don't know where most of these genes are. The heritability
is not very good (ie, it is hard to measure) because the tests for seed
vigor in lab and field are not good. If we understood the biology better
and had better markers, we could make sure new seed parents all were
excellent for seed vigor. Seed vigor is just a very small part of what
Pioneer is working on, but most of the genes of interest are already in the
corn genome. Soon Pioneer will have sequenced the expressed portions of the
entire corn genome. But it will take many, many years to put together the
biological jigsaw puzzle.
> I have said before - the problem as I see it is not with
> the goal (except where the goal is weighted toward
> developing a proprietary more than truly useful
> product) but rather with the methodology.
Things that are not useful don't last too long in the marketplace. But more
to the point, IMO the social and economic results of the concentration of
genetic knowledge and material into a few private hands, is more
consequential than whether we use this or that promoter or transgene.
> 2).- To what extent do the current research priorities of
> "Pioneer, and the other big breeding companies" permit
> (or logically lead to) that.
I don't have any inside information about this, but I suspect they are
reevaluating how hard to push transgenics in light of European public
distrust. All this will work to Pioneers favor though, because we are very
good at traditional breeding and seed production. Internally we don't have
any bias against transgenics.
> 3).- What criteria are being used to define quality? (Yield
> is a less complicated measurement - unless you take into
Defining quality as usefulness of the grain, the directions include better
nutritional quality, energy yield, milling/processing quality, special oils,
reduced mycotoxins, special starches, reduced phytate (reduce P in manure),
along with lots of other more exotic things that IMO don't have a high
chance of success (but who knows?).
> ...this is not a black and white issue).
That's for sure!
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