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Re: GE domestic plantsa nyone/



Justin,
As far as God is concerned: when I entered this debate some years ago, it
was requested by proponents of the technology not to bring in religious
arguments into the debate. It had to be "strictly scientific". Now, a few
years and a lot of strictly scientific unanswered questions later, these
same proponents start to bring in more and more religious arguments!  I
think religious arguments are very valid because we talk about living
organisms here and there is still a very vivid debate on evolution versus
creationism going on which is certainly not decisively finished. I am
sorry for the scientists who can't handle the issue, they should consider
to open their minds a bit further.
As far as genetic engineering of houseplants is concerned, it is already
happening with some flowers. To me, it is as unnecessary as engineering
foodplants. It may still involve risks, though from a different kind, but
more important: to learn how to really take care of houseplants is the
real solution.
Wytze de Lange

Justin.Needham@nmp.nokia.com wrote:

> Nina
>
> That's all very well, but lets start off by first chucking out all
> this God crap, without which I think you are likely to put up the
> backs of a lot of scientists and engineers. Lets get real.
>
> OK. I agree that there could be better ways to help world farming than
> to introduce GE crops. We can't deny however that millions of people
> are starving and things will only get worse.
>
> We can (1) tell them to stop breeding, (2) use land more productively
> (meat production is a very inefficient use of land), and (3) grow more
> productive crops. The first won't work.
>
> I think your arguments about monocultures need qualifying. At the
> moment most people in the developed world surviving off "mainstream"
> agriculture live off an amazingly small number of different crop
> varieties already. OK, areas in the less developed world are
> harbouring thousands of less productive, vitally important and unusual
> strains. We must guard against loosing these whilst working out how to
> also feed people.
>
> A new strain of plant virus could wipe out a huge part of the current
> (non GE) world harvest in one go. Bio-engineering isn't necessarily
> evil capitalism, it's also teaching thousands of scientists tools
> which could have universal use in tackling such disasters should they
> occur.
>
> OK, so you say a succesful GE crop could create even more of a
> monoculture. Well that's one to guard against, but possibly because
> each crop type will be deliberately suited to an environmental niche,
> we could need as much GE variety to suit varied environments as we
> already have in mainstream agriculture.
>
> Your argument about India and Ethiopia and seed-swapping etc is valid.
> For these people to need to buy their seed from large multinationals
> is foolish and dangerous. However if their current system worked
> perfectly we wouldn't be looking at these areas of the world when we
> ask where the starving people are. Their crops fail because of pests
> and climate. We have a more benign environment in the developed world
> so crops fail less often. That's great, but we need to ask what can be
> done to fix their problems. We can't alter climate much (OK we'll stop
> driving our cars etc.. but that's a different subject), so we possibly
> consider fixing the plants to suit the climate. Man has been doing
> this for thousands of years. I "tamper with nature" myself every time
> I eat a slice of yummy organic bread for breakfast, the seed of which
> has been altered dramatically since it was wild grass.
>
> I agree that the current application of GE is going in the wrong
> direction to fix the problem for these people, but we musn't damn the
> techniques because it's initial application might not be in best the
> intersts of these people. - Of course it isn't, it's in the intersts
> of the GE companies.
>
> I wholehartedly support bio-preservation. I for one am keen to grow
> old and unusual varieties organically in my garden. That doesn't
> prevent me from also supporting controlled use of GE techniques.
>
> In fact by carefully applying GE techiques we could actually be
> increasing bio diversity in mainstream commercial crop plants, not
> reducing it.
>
> And of course GE is seen by large multinationals as a good way to make
> lots of money. It is. Remember though that money makes the world go
> round. Man is by nature a competitive and self centered animal. (Or we
> wouldn't be here to say so). If something makes money, someone is
> going to do it and we can't change that.
>
> What we can do is try to influence the way it is done and the aims of
> the techniques. This can only happen if we are rational and scientific
> and look at all the facts rather than jumping on the current
> bandwaggon of hysteria which currently exists. Man has been poisoning
> and polluting his environment for thousands of years. Used
> appropriately, GE techniques could actually go someway towards
> improving this.  Every technological innovation in history has been
> hounded with critics when it first was invented. Then over the years
> even the critics mostly agree that it has something good to offer even
> though the initial applications may be misguided.
>
> GE should be used to create food plants more suited to their
> environment, and to reduce the current saturation of our environment
> with toxic herbicides and pesticides, many of which are already
> causing desease and will be influencing our quality of life for
> generations. Some headline GE techniques are aimed at enhancing the
> effect or acting with certain herbicides and pesticides. Because of
> the press these activities receive, people obviously react against
> them in a way they cannot against the current widespread unseen and
> less controlled applications of all manner of deadly substances.
>
> Of course I disagree with this, but we have to see it in context of
> what is already ocurring. Personally I prefer to eat organic, but we
> can't feed the world that way with people's current lifestyle
> aspirations. I'm privileged to be able to make that choice.
>
> So, lastly,
>
> My enquiry regarding house plants stems from my notion that large
> companies spend millions of pounds on a research effort because of the
> enormous implications of getting it wrong. To my way of thinking, for
> small laboratories on the sidelines, there would be far fewer
> implications in getting things wrong with a houseplant than with a new
> rice strain.
>
> - Justin
>
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