GENTECH archive


GM Rating

There is a lot being said about GM labeling, but so far I have not seen
anything proposed about GM Rating.

By "GM Rating" I mean how modified a GM organism is.
Perhaps this is a silly idea, but I would be grateful is somebody could
explain why.

The GM industry argue that GM modification is just an extension of the
selective and cross breeding that man has been practicing since he first
grew crops and kept animals.

That being the case you should be able to rate an organism by the number of
generations it would require to produce the organism by traditional methods.

A GM tomato that makes a better puree and contains only tomato genes might
have quite a low GM Rating number. That would be because traditional
methods could produce the same results fairly quickly. 

A GM potato containing fish genes to help prevent frost damage would
probably have a astronomically large GM Rating number (perhaps the GM
Rating numbers should be logarithmic).

It is not quite clear to me how a GM Rating number would be calculated, but
I don't think it would be an impossible task. Surely some mathematical
models could be developed that would give a fair indication of the
generations required ? The models could be based on our understanding of
evolution so far. It might be best if the GM Rating number also had some
factor for the time required to produce a single generation. Bacteria can
produce many generations rapidly, but elephants reproduce slowly. A
modified elephant requiring 10 generations should thus have a much higher
GM Rating that a modified bacterium also requiring 10 generations.

The big advantage of a GM Rating is that it would quantified how "alien" an
organism is. Organisms with high GM Ratings would merit particular care.

Any thoughts ?