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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Interesting

Merry brought up an interesting article the other day. Putting Nutrients back into wheat. Looks as though back in the day when we first tried to alter our foods to make them more edible, erm, appealing, we screwed up and took some of the wrong things out. Now some scientist want to put them back. And the catch is, they don't want to do it by genetically modifying it, they want to cross pollinate, excuse me, have successfully cross pollinated wild wheat with the domestic kind. {yes, I do understand that this is a genetically altered food, it was done naturally} Yet they did discover this by using RNA interference. So should ethical dilemmas come into play?

Advanced technologies do have a wonderful place in our lives. These researchers found what was missing from our food by using it, and were able to fix our mistake by naturally correcting it. Some people could argue that forced cross pollenation is not natural, but if you would like to come out and look at the volunteers that will pop up in my garden, say like my corn, you will see that cross pollination does come naturally. It was forced by being planted too close together in a wind swept field.

I feel that using the technology to discover instead of modify is a wonderful use. I do not like the idea of unnatural genetic tampering. Monsanto’s sterile food scares me. How much testing will be done before it makes its way into the public. What types of side effects will result in eating genetically engineered sterile crops? The terminator seed will do nothing to enhance our lives, only Monsanto’s pocketbooks. Yet the forced pollination of wheat seems like a quality idea to me. Am I a hypocrite?

What say you?

9 comments:

wil said...

I have very mixed feelings regarding biotech and big agribusiness. I heard Nina Fedoroff (molecular biologist and author of "Mendel in the kitchen : a scientist's view of genetically modified foods") give a talk, and she did assuage some of my concerns, but she, by her own admission, represents one side of the debate. I still get the sense that we're guinea pigs of a sort. Our regulatory system is really feeble - we're generally able to weed out deadly toxins, but beyond that, we don't have the foggiest regarding subtle (or not-so-subtle) long-term effects and complex interactions/cross-reactions.

farmer, vet and feeder of all animals said...

O.K
I can handle the wheat thing since it was crossed with it's own species (not a pesticide hiding in there or a human/animal part) and naturally at that. I also like that they are offering it free (not for profit like Monsanto) to cross with local varieties to create other open pollinated varieties suited to different conditions. Sounds like it might actually be beneficial. It also looks like all "fiddling" with the plants genes was only to study and not change the gene.

Katie said...

This is a toughie - I just started reading "Seeds of Deception" all about GMOs, etc. As a general rule I oppose it - I'll have to research more about what you mentioned here to form an opinion. I wonder if it's discussed in this new book I'm reading...

Phelan said...

wil, thanks for replying. I can't stand behind GMO's

farmer, I agree.

Katie, normally I am against modifying foods. But in this instance they are rectifying a man made mistake. They are not gene splicing to create a new species of wheat, they are cross pollinating, natural wild wheat with 10,000 year old domesticated stock. I think I can get behind this one. But we shall see what happens.

The Fool said...

I started the article this morning over coffee, but I find I need to subscribe now in order to finish reading it. Darn. My reply to this particular article may be ill-formed. Overall, I am very leery of genetic modification and engineering. The research reads as a portent of caution. Yes, cross-pollination occurs in nature, among natural stock - but how is the term "commercial stock" being used here? Anymore, the term "commercial stock" can be used interchangeably with "genetically modified/engineered stock." Willbe the ultimate goal here to enhance already enhanced stock? I worry that the more we tamper with what's "natural" - the further removed from it we become. Perhaps, all we will have someday are models of models...synthetic synthetics. Sound too surreal? I also wonder as to the unknown iatrogenic effects of our actions. There are warnings of disease risks, among other cautions. At the micro-level, we may be doing the equivalent of introducing rabbits into Australia. All in the name of benevolence. We need to be careful.

The Fool said...

Another thought: they want to give this wonderful "benefit" away for free...to as many as possible...under the belief that this will become a "common benefit" of all. Might not, at the same time, a "common detriment" also be being established? Say, a weakness in the gene...shared by all? Diversity is the key...

Phelan said...

I think that the stock they are talking about is the alter wheat that is in main production. There are several types of wheat. The farmers in my area go from summer wheat to soy to winter wheat throughout the year. I am not blindly welcoming this. I am pleased that they chose to cross polinate rather than create their own species in a lab. Many farmers, because of varies reason from Monsanto suing everyone, to general change, will not be cross breeding their stock. This is not something we will need to worry about until a major corp gets a hold of the finished product and patens the seed. Then it will be the only strain available.

Emme said...

I have been watching "The Future of Food." It is quite shocking to learn about GMOs and Monsantos role in our food production....

Without reading the article, I don't know how to respond in this specific instance. I hate to think about what is happening to our food supplies, and what may be happening inside my children's bodies due to modified foods.

Amy Leaton said...

I grew up in the country, but we never farmed. And now I live in the city. So I don't speak from personal knowledge. But the natural cross pollination sounds ok on the surface. I'm sure there are things I'm not considerating.

But I have a question about the sterile seeds - what is the point behind them except to ensure that the seed company has more business the following year??? I don't think I understand that.

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