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GMO and Environment | Blog Action Day October 15, 2007

Posted by ramunas in media, personal.
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Today is an International Blog Action Day, when more than 15000 bloggers are blogging about single common issue – environment (and hi-tech journal Wired issued special 15.10 edition). And this blog is not an exception.

I’m an avid proponent of in-vitro biotechnology, when genetically modified organisms (GMO) are used for production of useful enzymes, drugs and materials and are grown in controlled environment. I believe, that bio-assistance, bio-mimicry, neobiological industry, nanotechnolgy will help to solve many of contemporary environmental problems and foster the shift from linear “cradle to grave” to sustainable cyclic “cradle to cradle” closed loop manufacturing principle in industry. But I remain quite skeptical when GM plants are grown in an open field, mainly because of unpredictable impact on ecosystem due to gene flow (and some effect on local economics), and try to buy as much organic/local as can afford. It is also clear now, that organic farming can yield up to three times as much food as conventional farming in developing countries, and holds its own against standard methods in rich countries (ref).

There were no direct scientificaly sound evidence for the negative GM plants effect on ecosystem which lead to criticism. However, just recently in PNAS October 8th issue published article provides the first unbiased scientific evidence that toxins from GMO Bt corn may travel long distances in streams and may harm stream insects that serve as food for fish.

These results compound concerns about the ecological impacts of Bt corn raised by previous studies showing that corn-grown toxins harm beneficial insects living in the soil (via).

Stream insects are important prey for aquatic and riparian predators, and widespread planting of Bt crops has unexpected ecosystem-scale consequences (abstract).

Bye, bye Monsanto, aren’t you? 🙂 Smart breeding seems to be far more attractive option.

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Comments»

1. Joe Dunckley - October 19, 2007

I chose GM for my blog action day post too. However, regarding bt corn: you can’t extrapolate much from this to GM crops in general, because this is a strain that has been engineered to express a toxin. It’s a specific problem with bt corn, not a problem intrinsic to genetic engineering. There are two components to “risk”: probability of something going wrong, and consequence of something going wrong. I entirely agree that we should be more cautious about putting toxins and insecticides into these plants, where both probability and consequence have been shown to be significant. But if the genes for producing vitimins spread from golden rice, so what? If the genes for producing red pigment spread from landmine detecting Arabidopsis, so what? These genes are already native to the plants (merely given new promotors to control expression) — therefore they already have a background probability of spreading by gene flow — whose products are already known to be of little consequence to health or ecology — therefore “risk” is low, even if probability of spreading is high.

2. ramunas - October 21, 2007

certainly, genetic engineering is neither bad or good – it all depends how we use it. If we acknowledge the high probability of gene spreading – there’s one step forward, since several years ago it looked impossible.

3. BIPCYCLE - December 6, 2007

hm.. why your site opening so slow?

4. Idetrorce - December 15, 2007

very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
Idetrorce

5. 200.7 - August 6, 2008

interesting resources,


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