Post by firstname.lastname@example.org Post by James Harris Post by email@example.com Post by James Harris
Isn't there a difference between selective breeding and tinkering with
DNA, and isn't the latter what you would call GM?
No there is not.
I strongly disagree. Variations produced by natural processes
(interbreding) are very different from those induced by gene tampering.
In what way?
While selective breeding tends to produce offspring which are a meld of
the characteristics of known, _safe_, existing organisms a GM strain
could introduce completely new organisms with attributes that would be
impossible in nature and have undesirable effects on human health.
Post by firstname.lastname@example.org
In *every* case a gene is a section of DNA present on a chromosome whether this gene is produced by sunlight or background radiation (natural) or an artificial source of radiation or a chemical.
There are a number of forms of ionising radiations these all cause DNA aberrations. All of them can be produced artificially and are present in the environment. The most common natural form is sunlight. Likewise there are hundreds or thousands of chemicals that have similar effects that have natural and artificial sources.
Aberrations produced are random in their nature and distribution otherwise the technique would be pointless.
Post by James Harris Post by email@example.com
DNA mutates quite naturally anyway under various environmental stimulants. The vast majority of mutations are benign in that they have no consequences whatsoever. Where there are consequences and these provide the organism with a competitive advantage within their environment (rarely in the wild) then the organism will thrive. otherwise it will succumb to other competitors and its non compatible gene will die with it.
In the agricultural/horticultural/domestic setting, it is a human being who creates these environments as well as decides which individuals will win the contest for life and hence perpetuity.
Compare the grains of wheat, oats, Barley rice maize, peas, beans all packed with carbohydrate. Why are they so much bigger than their wild counterparts?
Because man willed it!
What would happen if Armageddon removed man? They would not be able to compete and so would disappear within a few generations. A wheat field left uncut and fallow will grow little or no wheat the following year.
Cultivars might die out but edible crops were around for thousands of
years before man arrived.
And still are in the form of the wild ancestors of the cultivars we are familiar with today. Take for example the wild strawberry and wile raspberry (both grow in my garden and are turfed out as weeds.) rye grass, wild oats wild einkorn wheat, the wild pea, the wild potato (An Andean plant)
One upon a day our primitive ancestors no doubt gathered these plants from the wild as food just as they hunted wild animals for their meat (and in places, and on occasions still do)
This way of life (the hunter gatherer society) has no largely disappeared of course and we depend primarily on strained cultivars and domestically bred animals for our food.
Just one nightmare scenario is that a strain of a crop is produced,
tested, found to be safe, becomes commercially successful and displaces
natural strains. Then, years later, we find it has a long-term
detrimental effect on human health. But by then, going back to
known-safe strains has become extremely difficult. The patent owners
would refuse to accept responsibility, would tell us the problems were
not caused by their product. The lawyers would fight in the courts of
one country after another. The technocrats would claim that, while not
accepting the criticism of their product they could re-engineer the
strain to remove the part people were afraid of and replace it with
something new. But then what would they produce? How long would it take
to be tested? What would we consume in the meantime? How long would it
take for it to produce in sufficient volume? And what long-term effects
would that new strain have on us?
Selective breeding of known strains is one thing. Being clever enough to
produce new life forms by direct manipulation of generic codes is quite