Friday, June 22, 2012

A prime example.

I've been aware of this case for ages, it's the first time in a while that I've seen a nicely packaged summary though. You all know how I keep railing on about how GE is a tool, that should be used when and where appropriate? This exemplifies that. There's virus that hits papaya, the ringspot virus. Beat the crap out of the Hawaiian papaya industry a while back. A GE version of the papaya was created which contained a small segment of the virus, which ended up with a plant that had a sort of inbuilt immunity to the virus. The insert breaks down in an animals digestive system within seconds. There's no harmful side effects. And it was used after years of trying to breed resistant plants (an effort which still continues) using traditional methods without success.
Even better, the GE crop is not owned by a large corporation - it's owned by the industry association.

There's a couple of take away points though, from the designer of the resistant plant, the first being:
Genetic engineering technology is not the same thing as Monsanto/Big Ag policy. It’s a tool. And like all tools, it can be used for good or bad ends.
Which is something I think I have also said. On numerous occasions. It's not just me who thinks this. The other is right at the end when the interview is summed up.
After all, it’s impossible to anticipate the full impact of any of our actions, including a technology as complex and powerful as genetic engineering. I also think it’s fair to check up on the facts Dr. Gonsalves provides and to insist on published articles in peer-reviewed science journals. But after reading these articles and listening to arguments on both sides, I’m persuaded that the Rainbow was an appropriate and, yes, ethical use of genetic engineering that has had more benefits than drawbacks. This doesn’t mean I’m pro-GMO or pro-Monsanto. I’m pro asking questions and looking at situations on a case-by-case basis.
It's noted that this resistant plant works well for the Hawaiian version of the virus, but that overseas there's some versions that breakdown resistance. Very rarely do we find a perfect tool that solves all our problems. Some weeds are resistant to pesticides, some insect resistant to some insecticides. Species evolve, the pests included, and our methods of controlling them will always be evolving. We should be aiming for the methods of control that do the least harm.

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