Genetic Engineering does indeed have problems

Bruce Walsh jbwalsh at
Thu Feb 17 17:36:14 EST 2000

Rob writes:

"More to the point, I'm discouraged by your cavalier treatment of a
fairly significant issue."

What's cavalier about pointing out the genetic modifications occur very
often in nature?  I never stated that GM organisms (GMO) are without
problems, rather my concern is also
about a cavalier treatment  --- many folks assume that   "all GMOs are
bad", which is about as stupid as saving all GMOs are good.

Likewise, there are levels of GMOs --- if I took a seed storage protein
in maize , took it into the lab and genetically modified it so as to
increase the percent of the amino acid Lysine, I would get high-lysine corn. 
Transferring the gene back into corn gives a GMO, but one that corn breeders
having been trying like the dickens to get via artificial selection of
natural variation.  The character is hard to score,  and the wait for new
mutants very long, but it could also be done the "natural" way.  However,
one is 3-5 generations, the other 30-60 generations (=years).  Why the big
fuss over the quicker approach?

A little balance (on both sides) is called for.   What's cavalier about

Understanding peace, and peace through understanding,



In the ever-popular sprit of full disclosure:   Just in case folks
wonder, no I do not hold any biotech stocks, nor do I work for a biotech
company, either directly (i.e., as an employee) or indirectly (i.e. via grants
funded by biotech companies).  These genetically-modified options (GMOps?)
are the fruit of my own ignorance, rather than simple greed.
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