Genetic Manipulation... Good or Bad?

Discussion in 'Conversations Forum' started by Laughing Dog, Feb 4, 2008.

  1. Laughing Dog

    Laughing Dog Active Member

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    Below is a recent article about plans to release a Blue Rose ... at first I was reticent about "genetically modified" flowers, but in reality it has been going on long before Gregor Mendel's famous experiments on plant hybridization. I guess we shall be seeing a whole new wave of genetically modified flowers - some speculate that you may even be able to 'custom order' your plant needs and colors via an online genetic engineering service in the not-so-distant future. Genetic encoding may take away the time consuming but romantic aspect or plant hybridization ... but the Blue Rose is a magnificent flower nevertheless - and this did take them nearly 14 years to develop, although it is speculated that today's technology can now accomplish this within a couple of years or sooner! Curious as to what your thoughts are on the subject? Should we be manipulating nature to such an invasive extent? When do we say 'enough is enough' - or do we?

    ___________________________________________

    Roses are... blue?

    Japan set to sell genetically altered blooms

    Last Updated: Monday, February 4, 2008 | 2:05 PM ET

    CBC News

    A Japanese company on Monday announced plans to bring genetically modified blue roses to market in 2009, saying the flowers will appeal to the luxury gift giver.
    Suntory Ltd., known largely as a whisky distillery, and Australian researchers created the blue roses, which have a slight purplish hue, in a 14-year project. In 2004, researchers unveiled the blue flowers, explaining they had inserted the gene responsible for the blue pigment in pansies into the traditionally red flowers
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    [​IMG]
    Kazumasa Nishizaki told AFP the company aims to sell several hundreds of thousands of blue roses a year. "As its price may be a bit high, we are targeting demand for luxurious cut flowers, such as for gifts," he said. The exact price and commercial name for the blue rose have not been decided. Suntory also developed the world's first blue carnations — dubbed Moondust — which have been sold in Japan since 1997.
     
  2. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Mixed. Like any technology, genetic modification is in itself neutral; what people do with it can be good, or bad. Rather sadly, most of what has been done is bad.

    The blue roses example is actually one of the most harmless cases I've come across - it doesn't have (or at least, I can't see) any significant negative impacts.

    A good example of positive uses is to find genes for resistance to major epidemic plant diseases (e.g. chestnut blight, dutch elm disease, etc), so as to enable species recovery of the species pushed close to extinction by human stupidity.

    Far more common, and much worse, is the use of genetic manipulation to maximise human utilisation of land at the expense of all other life. A typical example is the adding of herbicide tolerance genes to crops. The result is that crops can withstand massive additions of herbicides, which are then added to completely eliminate all plant biodiversity ("weeds") apart from the crop species. This of course has knock-on effects, leading to the complete destruction of whole ecosystems, losing all of the insects, birds, mammals, etc., that rely on the lost plants for food sources either directly or indirectly.

    The basic thesis of most current users of genetic modification is "I want it all, and I'm not going to share the slightest, minutest bit of land productivity with anything else". Pure greed. The sooner this is stopped, the better.
     
  3. bedixon

    bedixon Active Member

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    While Nature is genetically modifying every living thing every minute of every day, and always has, you just can't compare that to the genetic modification that is going on in the frankenstein laboratories like at Monsanto... injecting ANIMAL DNA or foreign bacteria into a PLANT... we know that Nature would not, could not, should not ever do this.

    Myself, I don't object to flowers being modified for colour, at least I can't think of a reason why that's going to harm anything... we humans have mixed our colours since forever, and it seems to work just fine.
    But I won't knowingly buy any food product that has been GM'd in any way. Another good reason to grow vegetables!
     
  4. Ralph Walton

    Ralph Walton Active Member 10 Years

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    It's the last character in the title line: "?" that the most important consideration in each and every genetic manipulation, the question mark.

    What are all of the consequences of this new combination? No one will ever have all the answers to that question. Multiply this by the unknown but huge number of combinations already made and we have a whole lot of unforeseen consequences. These experimenters bring to mind a bunch of giddy teenagers messing around with a can of Dad's black powder. Sooner or later someone looses an eye or a finger because they just don't know what the #@*% they are doing!. They know a bit, but who hasn't heard "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing".

    Sorry Michael, but "genetic modification in itself" is anything but neutral. It is inherently hazardous in such an unpredictable way that is is impossible to conduct any meaningful risk/benefit analysis. It is so mired in politics and corporate machinations as to be functionally opaque to all but a few highly specialized individuals and groups, most of whom are so personally and economically involved that the expressions "arms length" or "unbiased" cannot even be approached.

    The Blue Rose seems a benign project - no fish or slug genes being patched onto our food - but even with low risk (and I won't accept that there is zero risk here) where is the benefit? Sure it may be technically impressive, but this is like my kids downloading game "cheats" from the internet. People have been trying to breed a blue rose for centuries but this is like the marathon runner that slipped into the race close to the end without running the whole course. This project has no honour, and no importance. Shun it.

    Ralph
     
  5. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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  6. bedixon

    bedixon Active Member

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    ... which is why I say "knowingly"... and grow some of my own veg (saving seed), and buy locally whatever I can: fruit and veg, bread, cheese, chicken and eggs; all are available from within a few miles. I resist refined and processed foods (as much as possible, no one's perfect!). We can only do what we can do... which is quite a lot. We the consumers have to create the demand for real food to get the supply. Support your local farmers, millers, bakers, candlestick makers. We may not be able to avert contamination, it's already here ... but with some vigilance from the common man/woman (look at Europe, they're miles ahead of us) we can save what's left. Everyone can do something.
     
  7. Ralph Walton

    Ralph Walton Active Member 10 Years

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    Amen


    Ralph
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 16, 2010
  8. Weekend Gardener

    Weekend Gardener Active Member 10 Years

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    Why do some of us always comit all GM plants collectively into the sin bin?
     
  9. Ralph Walton

    Ralph Walton Active Member 10 Years

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    I can only answer for one of us, but here's my take:
    It's not so much the plants or the pigs, bacteria, etc., but rather the process and the environment in which it is practiced.

    The processes of genetic manipulation are anything but precise, particularly in the research and development phase. Tens of thousands of organisms are produced and examined and culled for expression of the desired trait(s). A few are grown on and screened for undesirable traits and a very small number (or more frequently none) are selected for further testing and screening. Some undesirable traits and potential complications are missed. Yes, this part is a lot like conventional breeding, but at least when you cross a rose with a rose, you're pretty assured that only a rose will result.

    A lot of money is being spent, and that brings us to the specific environment in which this activity occurs: big business. Nobody else can afford to "play". And big politics.

    It's a fact that large corporations (and small, but they aren't in this scenario) have and will continue to suppress information that interferes with their ability to market a product profitably, and it's a fact that regulators and politicians will be influenced by well funded lobbyists and will not and have not been able thus far to consistently protect us from these practices. It's a fact that Monsanto's and Bayer's GM canola has "escaped" and contaminated approximately 80% of the non-GM crops in Canada. It's a fact that lives and businesses have been shattered.

    I'll refer you to a web site: http://www.percyschmeiser.com/Gene Flow.htm
    Gene Flow in GM Canola Widespread

    I've sat down and had tea with Percy. He's not some wacko with a persecution complex, just a guy trying to get along despite being run down by Monsanto's big legal truck. His story is just the tip of the iceberg.

    So yes, I'll continue to commit all GM plants collectively into the "sin bin" because that's where they belong.

    Ralph Walton
     
  10. bedixon

    bedixon Active Member

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    it's the unforeseen consequences of trying to fool Mother Nature, mostly. This is by mega corporations with the audacity to patent seeds to control the few farmers that are left. Seeds, of all things, should not have copyrights. Farmers should be free to plant their own seeds. Insects and birds should be free to be in balance with the rest of nature. Why is it that some of us freely seek the bottom line without accountability for actions that may adversely affect entire generations?
     
  11. bedixon

    bedixon Active Member

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    Well said, Ralph... I saw Percy Schmeiser speak and regard him as a true hero. His experience alone is argument enough against this madness.
     
  12. zion2 0

    zion2 0 Member

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    Genetic manipulation can be good or bad. For instance, There were recently pigs fused with some jellyfish genes. It made them look good, but had negative results on there health. As for plants, I dont think it will harm much to hybrid plants. But as for edible crops, they can be good. Take ,for instance, Sweetcorn. Before it was altered, it wouldn't have tasted as good.
     
  13. Ralph Walton

    Ralph Walton Active Member 10 Years

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    Sweet corn has been with us as a recognized separate variety since the first one, Papoon, was acquired from the Iroquois Indians in 1779. Many different versions have been selected and planted since then, without the use of genetic engineering. A more recent variant known as “Supersweet” has been selected using the knowledge of the function of specific corn genes (sh2 in this case) to develop a corn that is both sweeter and able to hold onto the sweetness longer after it is picked. These “sweet corn” and “supersweet” varieties are not GM plants (that’s why I underlined “selected” – they have been selected from naturally occurring plantings - no jellyfish).

    There is also “Bt Sweetcorn” which is a GM product. A gene from soil bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) has been incorporated into corn plants, enabling the plants to produce a protein which kills a variety of commercially important pests. This corn is not considered to have a better (or worse) taste than convertional (non-GM) Sweetcorn, but is has been successfully marketed based on the reduced amount of spraying in it’s production. See http://www.foodsafetynetwork.ca/articles/51/bt_backgrounder.pdf

    There is also "Roundup ready corn", again a GM product based on differences in how it is grown, not on taste. See http://www.monsanto.com/monsanto/ag_products/input_traits/products/roundup_ready_corn_2.asp if you have the stomach for it.


    Ralph
     
  14. zion2 0

    zion2 0 Member

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    Oh............
     
  15. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    The purpose of "The Corporate Organism" is to perpetuate and spread itself same as a genuine organism. Mega-businesses are taking over our world and our lives and do not curb themselves unless forced to by governments or publicity. Public welfare is not a concern unless a disaster is so egregious it interferes with the success of the corporation. The fact that much genetic modification is being allowed to occur does not indicate that it is a good or safe practice at all. Past experience would point to it being a really bad idea in most instances, as merely moving whole organisms around carelessly has resulted in gazillions of dollars worth of damage and hardship. Chestnut blight and Dutch elm disease have already been given as examples. Another would be the importation of the mongoose to control rats in Hawaiian sugar cane fields - nevermind that rats are nocturnal and the mongoose hunts during the day. Instead the mongoose went on to become a pest itself, attacking and killing other animals that are not considered pest species there. Here we are talking about generating entirely new and unnatural genetic combinations, in quantity, with even less of an ability to anticipate what the consequences might be.
     

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