Thursday, March 31, 2011

Better-Than-GMO Foods - UPDATED

Many of the foodies among you are uncomfortable with genetically modified organisms (GMO or sometimes just GM) in the food supply, and for good reason. But what if the genetic changes were done by nature? Well, of course, you say; that's nothing but selective breeding, something farmers have done for more than a millennium at least. And you would be right, except...

Now there's a scientific assist available, allowing farmers to compare the genome of two or more organisms, at least one the product of selective breeding, one with a desirable trait and the other without, in an attempt to identify the genes associated with the desirable trait. Farmers can leverage the intuition they have accumulated over centuries about selective breeding; the genetic comparison simply allows them to identify the likely plants much faster, eliminating many of the false steps inevitable in traditional methods. And no artificial GM is involved... at all. The only modifier of the genes is Nature.

At best, I've been able to sketch this for you in halting layman's terms. For a clearly written if somewhat technical explanation, I'll send you to my former employer, Dr. Ken Weiss of Penn State University. His current series on this subject is titled Learning the Lessons of the Land; here are Part I and Part II. (If there are additional parts, I will add links to this post.)

UPDATE: Part III, Part IV.

1 comment:

  1. I read about this, I think in Organic Gardening, and it is pretty cool. Study after study has shown that GM foods are not the solution, in spite of what Monsanto and others hype. This seems like a good tool and there is that old saw "You can't fool Mother Nature."



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