Plant Conservation & GMOs

Fri, 14 Nov 2014 00:31:35 PST
Plants have been exchanging genes since there were plants and bacteria to do so. That is a long time!
Monsanto etc. have not invented anything. Such lunacy as patenting already existing genes is part of the "ethos" of such daft profit driven mentality.
The controls on the results are a laughing stock as regards scientific validity. They are asked to do the tests themselves so of course the results are always vastly in favour so even more profit can be made at the expense of farmers and consumers. I can see that for horticultural purposes GMO's would be extremely interesting! Imagine the genes for cold resistance being introduced to many half-hardy or even tropical plants...
I for one would love to grow hardy Araucaria heterophylla!
I can see little difference between plant hybridising and gene transference. But it is the lack of independant controls on food crops produced by GM that is the big issue.The companies who produce these plants have absolutely no interest in getting negative results from their testing!
I can't see such techniques being of much use in plant conservation.
Look what has happened when market forces get to work via selection and hybridising on plants. They all end up as being double, red, continous flowering, cartwheels with no scent as Graham S. Thomas famously remarked many years ago. The horticultural equivalent of grey goo!
Maybe true scientists could find a use for GM to help wild populations of plants to survive? But who knows just what the knock-on effects of that would be as the maize story indicates...
Surely it is better and simpler to do as at Kew: grow native stock seeds of Cypripedium calceolus to good sized plants and then plant them out at the site where the one last british plant survives? Kew are doing a lot of such work as I hope many other botanical gardens world-wide are too.
They don't just sit on their plants as has been suggested, content that they have them in a herbarium.
I have helped propagate for my local nature conservancy in Buckinghamshire G.B. (B.B.O.N.T.) many years ago Juniperus communis which is suffering from decline due to lack of seedlings and Salvia pratensis for the same reasons. There were no qualms about collecting seed and cuttings nor reintroducing them back to the original site. I think it is a good idea to keep the extremists out of plant conservation, anywhere for that matter, and let common sense rule. I can see that long grown horticultural stock of rare plants is not ideal for such conservation projects but then if that is all there is then there is no choice. Better that than nothing. I don't agree that we should accept that human activity causing plants to go extinct is acceptable. And that we should just let biodiversity go down the plughole. We need it! The vast palette of genes that is being lost has untold consequences for us and the environement.
" Genetically modified organisms, including plants, are not inherently bad things, they are the products of technology, which itself has no moral value, good or bad, it is how we use it that makes it good or bad. I think differently about Monsanto, the company that has done a lot of this work and patented it and then turn around and sued farmers who aquire "their" (patented) gene via accidental cross pollination with the neighbors Monsanto GMO crop. Seems to me it should be Monsanto's responsibility to keep "their" genes out of other peoples fields, if they can't do that, oh well. 
> Still there are folks who go crazy over GMOs, I actually was having a heated discussion about this with some teachers in my dept who linked them to all the other ills of the world, but as I said, they are not evil creations in and of themselves. Of course any GMO should be thoroughly tested before it is used/released to ensure no harm is done to ecosystems or the environment, and with some of them such as bt corn there is the possibility it could make the organic pesticide Bacillus thuringensis (the actual BT bacteria, I tell my students it is caterpillar ebola) useless if the selection pressure of crops containing the bt toxin gene increases the frequency of naturally resistant strains of pest species via natural selection pressure. There are strategies to mitigate that, such as the requirement that farmers plant non bt corn so the non resistant pests have a place to live and mix their genes with any resistant ones to prevent the emergence of a resistant pest strain but t
> hat entails planting land with a crop the farmer knows will be eaten in order to preserve the usefulness of the bt corn nearby. 
> One genetic modification I would love to see is one that would turn the Cape bulb flora into summer growing flora, we'd have such interesting gardens here in the northeast if that was the case. Many summer growing S African bulbs are perfectly hardy here, and that would likely be the case with Cape geophytes if they didn't put their leaves up in winter. 
> Ernie DeMarie"

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