Genetic Engineering does indeed have problems

Bruce Walsh jbwalsh at
Thu Feb 17 11:03:15 EST 2000

Jim writes "Bunk.  Selecting for larger seed heads in wheat is NOT the
same as taking
parts of the genome from a bacteria or a brazil nut and adding it to the
genome of a potato."

Actually, it's very close.  Take wheat for example.  Modern wheat is a
three-species hybrid.  Likewise, most crop plants today have  introgressed
genes from other species.  Likewise, all plants and animals do indeed
contain bacterial genes --- they are called mitochondria and chloroplasts.
Thus Nature itself likes genetic engineering.  Another example:  most
genomes of present-day bacteria contain large chunks for very different
species.  It has been estimated that the present genome of E. coli (our common
gut bacteria)  has had its genome turned over (via transfer from other
bacteria, generally VERY unrelated) at least five times.    Nature thus has a
long (and quite glorious) history of swapping parts of genomes between
very unrelated species.


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