Fish genes in my tomato? Dumbass.

You hear this nonsense over and over. They’re putting genes from unrelated species into GMOs. This very idea shows how ignorant the anti-gmo activists are when it comes to science and DNA. What this post is about is that you don’t have to be a squint to understand the science.

I’m not a scientist and I’ll admit that before I started learning about GMOs I would have thought the same thing. Fish genes in my tomato? Yikes.

Then, when I started learning about GMOs, I started learning about DNA.  I still only have a basic knowledge of both sciences, but I have learned enough that I now know that it is not some freaky experimental science. These guys and gal squints know what they’re doing. They understand the mechanisms of how it all works. I also found out that genes are genes.

I found out that we humans share quite a few genes with other species.  Speaking of tomatoes; we share 70% DNA. Bananas? 60%

That’s what makes the unrelated species argument silly.

Another nonsensical idea is that for some reason, gene transfer in the lab is somehow more sinister and wrong than “traditional breeding.”

This is what I learned. In traditional breeding, thousands of genes get transferred, willy nilly. You don’t know what you’re going to get. It may take years until you find out whether it works or not. With GM they transfer only the gene(s) they need. Then they work to make sure it works like they want it to. They test for all kinds of unintended consequences. You can’t do that with traditional breeding. You have to wait years to see if you get want you want. How is that worse than conventional breeding?

The allergen nonsense? Yeah, they test for those as well. Think about it. With GM they will be able to eliminate the allergens in peanuts and wheat.

I used to be a technophobe and then I was introduced to the computer in 1982. A friend showed me how it was a great thing for writing. It allowed you to do all things you couldn’t do before. You could cut and paste and move things around and get it just the way you wanted it.

On a related level, that’s what’s happened in the world of genetics.

I still write things on paper. In fact, I do it using a pencil. I love pencils. And that’s the point. No one method is great. It’s whatever works.

GM has its place, It can be a positive; a helpful tool.

 

4 Thoughts on “Fish genes in my tomato? Dumbass.

  1. It gets worse. Every time you get a cold, you get DNA transferred into YOU. As my daughter aptly put it during High School biology class: “Mom … viruses RAPE YOUR CELLS”. They transfer all kinds of DNA between species, all the time, and randomly.

    Radiation just alters the DNA, willy nilly. So for “traditional” breeding, you expose seeds to radiation and then see what mutations happen. I’m not sure how that is considered “safer” than a controlled change in one gene, but it’s “traditional” and so the GMO folks don’t complain about it. Most of the mutations though, make for a plant that survives less well, so mutations generally die out quickly unless the plant is coddled. Corn, for instance, simply can’t survive on it’s own, or even disperse it’s own seeds.

  2. “It’s a no-brainer that crops grow better when they don’t have to compete with weeds, but there has to be a better way than dousing our food with a herbicide that can’t be proven safe and whose long-term risks and consequences are unknown. I don’t care to be a guinea pig in Monsanto’s Roundup experiment just so Monsanto can make big profits. In my opinion, big profits are the ONLY thing Monsanto cares about.”

    Look, unless you have telepath training, you don’t know what “Monsanto” cares about. Scientists in general are geeks, and they are about problem solving. Lots of scientists means lots of different motivations. There are some things that can ONLY be done by large groups of people. Like building cars or airplanes. You up for building your own airplane? It takes a huge human anthill to do that. Anthills work differently … but they work. Hence the fact there are loads of ants around still.

    Monsanto right now is getting into organic farming … seeds that are “traditionally” bred but with using some of the GMO techniques. That being … they look for mutated plants, then test for the gene they wanted to have mutated, and breed that plant. Since they don’t use “GMO techniques” it isn’t scary, but it’s a lot faster than just randomly planting any ol’ seed.

    If you are against Roundup and pesticides though … GMO is our BEST BET for reducing our need for those. What we really need is deep-rooted, robust plants that don’t need tilling every year. GMO is the easiest way to produce those. I’m pretty sure we’ll have perennial corn and wheat and rice fairly soon, because they will save in farming costs and survive drought better, and save the soil. We’ll probably have GMO wheat and corn too, because it’s the easiest way to avoid the allergens that are really problematic at the moment.

  3. Kevin Folta on June 12, 2014 at 4:20 am said:

    Nice one Bernie. Shiva made some comment like “Once you put a bacterial gene in a plant, it is no longer a plant”. Of course, she never thinks about the genes in the chloroplast- that are from an ancient bacterial symbiont. And she’s considered their best scientific firepower.

  4. And for those of us using the technology in the field, have seen great environmental benefit. Biotech is one of the reasons Maryland farmers have surpassed their mandated EPA TMDL sediment loss reduction, it facilitates more efficient no-till farming which preserves top soil, reduces sediment and phosphorus loss, increases organic matter and improves water quality. It is a valuable tool in our toolbox. If it wasn’t a valuable tool, then the global adoption rate would be flat line or decline, not the upward incline that we have seen for nearly 20 years.
    Those who would say that Monsanto is forcing us to use their seed, I have the same response – “Dumbass”. Really?

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