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Discussion in 'Conversations Forum' started by Eric La Fountaine, Feb 24, 2005.
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Transgenic Mustard Cleans Soil
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
"It's not paranoia to be afraid if there really is somebody who will harm you"
Transgenetic technologists have carefully created a terminology of comfortable words and phrases for public consumption and courting. Words like "splicing" "inserting" even "manipulation" all have a precision sadly absent in the reality of "genetic engineering".
The reality is more like giving a child a hammer and a piano, then carefully editing the results to be able to declare: "Harmony!".
Someone has successfully modified a wild mustard plant to increase it's ability to take up selenium (by a factor of 4) and not die from the effects of the selenium. Bravo, but wait! This modification process is anything but precise. Thousands of "modified" plants will have been produced and culled because the desired traits were not expressed, non-target changes, failure to thrive, mortality, etc. A relatively few plants will have been grown out, tested, culled again, perhaps bred back or interbred, (think "editing") and eventually declared a success.
What about the non-target traits? Do we really think they identified and eliminated all of them?
When this genetic material is being sorted, it's not like sorting a deck of cards: this is a spade, that's a heart etc. Sorting prior to "insertion" or "splicing" gives a pile that is mostly or almost entirely the desired gene. The subsequent processes will get rid of most or almost all of the rest.
There is one absolute in this whole debate: forever. That's how long this genetic material will be with us. If there is still Canola growing on this planet in a thousand years, it will still be resistant to Round-up. I'd like to think my boys and their kids won't have to check for a "Selenium free" label when they buy mustard.