On Mon, 13 Mar 2000 12:27:49 -0600, E. Ann Clark wrote:
>> My logic is that there is little risk from any of these categories, the
>> chief benefits being relative speed of some transfers and the avoidance
>> of undesired secondary characteristics.
>Actually, the "process" risks are the same, whether it comes from the same species
>or different families. The clearest example of this is work by Bergelson, J., C.B.
>Purrington, and G. Wichmann. 1998. Promiscuity in transgenic plants. Nature 395:25
>(3 Sept 98) with Arabidopsis thaliana. We've discussed this before on this list.
>e. What else was changed? The authors are evolutionary biologists, so they looked
>at outcrossing. What else could have been different? How would you even know what
>to look for? That is the point - it is unpredictable, although in this specific
>case, it affected a trait that would have an impact on the ease of transmission of
>transgenes to cross-able relatives.
>So, the closeness of the cross does not necessarily reduce the risk of 'process'
>related problems. Ann
So how is this different than some of the similar "process risks" of
conventional breeding? It seems that what you are describing is a risk
associated with crossing plants. Period. Certainly some of my limited
work with disease resistance in apples, with wheat, with potatoes, and
with beans has resulted in a lot of plants that were more hassle than
the transferred benefit was worth.
Even professional breeders have the problem, no? Consider the Nova
Easi-Gro apple ... nicely scab resistant, but if lacking water in any
way it ends up tasting like shoe polish. In other cases (I think)
increased scab resistance has also resulted in greater *susceptibility*
to other deseases, such as cedar-apple rust.
I suspect that a shift in outcrossing has occured as the result of
conventional breeding as well. Nobody looked for it because they
weren't freaked out by the breeding method. Your point about not
knowing what to look for, though well taken, is not particularly
cogent because nobody has been looking for this stuff in conventional
*My* biggest concern about GMO food is that the most common "truck" for
moving genes around seems to be cauliflower mosaic virus, the genetic
make-up of which bears enough similarity to HIV that certain nightmare
scenarios can't be entirely dismissed.
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