> > The reality, which I think will become increasingly "real" as
> > our friends at "M" actually try to commercialize multi-genic
> > trait products, is that genes interact. I mean, "really"
> > interact, and often in ways that are unintended and unpredictable.
To which, you said:
> The industry has been dealing with this for some time. It is just not
> visible to the public. For example, many Bt events interact unfavorably
> with genetic backgrounds. Most constructs and transformed lines never see
> the light of day. It is the same situation as traditional breeding, a big
> crap shoot. That is why size is such an asset.
I am well aware that the industry has been dealing with it, because I
actively seek out and discuss this with my colleagues. But as you
note elsewhere, most people don't know this because the industry
likes to take upon itself words like "precise" and "efficient" -
which it isn't.
> > Our pals in the life science companies (another misnomer) have
> > gotten away with it so far because they are working with single
> > gene traits, and often, genes which already exist in a given
> > species.
Then you said:
> I beg to differ. The industry that you so villify is really the plant
> breeding industry. Our stock and trade is MAINLY complex polygenic traits.
> The initial splash into genetically enhanced products was made with
> transgenic technology, because these strategies are more logically
> monogenic, simple, and predictable.
Need to be clearer - who do you mean by "our"? Plant breeders or
gene jockeys? Most plant breeders that I know of work largely in
multi-genic traits, achieving human-useful targets using natural
selection - without contravening natural processes. It is the gene
jockeys (life science company cash cow type ventures) that have
depended so prominently on single gene traits. Let's be clear that
despite the wholesale commercial merging of these two processes
(human directed natural selection and abject, forceful violation of
natural processes which have evolved explicitly to maintain species
integrity), they are by no means the same thing. For more on this,
see my talk entitled The Faulty Assumptions of Field Crop Genetic
Engineering, mounted on my homepage.
> But the future of breeding lies in understanding the biology and developing
> more efficient ways to manipulate the endogenous genetics of crop plants
> than the big crap-shoot approach of traditional breeding. Even in corn,
> that has been so thoroughly worked, you can bet the full value of the
> species has not been realized. Corn has somewhere around 60,000 genes, and
This starts from the presumption, which I do not share, that genetics
is "the" solution to what are quite often management-induced
problems. This has been discussed in some depth already on sanet, so
I won't delve back into it again. But certainly, this presumption
strongly channelizes one's thought into what is the way of the
future, and how to get there.
> > They have no way (yet) of ensuring that the transgene(s) goes
> > into a particular chromosome, let alone, at a particular
> > insertion point.
> Oh, there are ways. They don't work very well yet, but in a few years you
> will be seeing targeted insertion products.
That is why I said "yet". Too bad they couldn't wait until they got
the science right before commercializing the technology. Whether
it was this issue or keeping their genes at home where they belong,
or unintended impacts on nontarget organisms or human food
safety testing or whatever. I'm told that Big M has been forced to
settle out of court on their highly dubious case against Percy.
The claims are not compatible with the reality, and blind faith that
"ways will be found" provide little comfort to the people and the
environment which will be impacted - involuntarily - along the way.
> > So, I am increasingly convinced that it is the process that is
> > dysfunctional and indefensible - not just the products (the latter is
> > the industry position).
To which, you said:
> You know, at a place I used to work the farm manager was a nay-sayer. We
> (the faculty) would come to him with clever experimental designs and new
> ways to collect data. He would always find a reason why things couldn't
> work (and in his hands, they usually didn't). This guy retired and we got a
> new farm manager, and he made the ideas work. That is the kind of attitude
> I find at Pioneer.
> This list is filled with negative people, apparently worshipping the coming
> apocalypse. Yes, I am scared to death of the population explosion, and
> worried about the future. But I like to work on solutions, and applied
> biology is my thing (not GE per se). I think you will see a lot of good
> things come from GE methods. We are at the very beginning of this
> technology. It is like the transistor in 1960. I agree, GE is frightening.
Really, my friend, is Luddite-baiting the best defense you can make
against scientifically-sound criticism? Ann
Dr. E. Ann Clark
University of Guelph
Guelph, ON N1G 2W1
Phone: 519-824-4120 Ext. 2508
FAX: 519 763-8933
To Unsubscribe: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command
"unsubscribe sanet-mg". If you receive the digest format, use the command
To Subscribe to Digest: Email email@example.com with the command
All messages to sanet-mg are archived at: