Friday, July 06, 2012

India tries GM agriculture . . .

GENETICALLY-MODIFIED plants have a lot of people very nervous: the subject brings up a lot of automatic negative knee-jerk, reflexive, unthinking, thanks to Monsanto and their GM tar-baby of Round-Up-resistant GM crops.

GM cotton
But GM plants are beneficial, and modifying genetics has been done by gardeners even before Gregor Mendel and his pea-pods, and later, with the discovery of the DNA double helix by Watson and Crick from Rosalind Franklin's X-ray diffraction image. And that's why India has started to get with GM crops, according to an article in io9 by  Tim Barribeau, "How genetically modified crops are helping poor farmers in India" — and no Monsanto shake-down.
Franklin's X-ray image

The debate about widespread use of genetically modified crops is still contentious. On one hand, you have the strong-arm tactics from the likes of the Monsanto corporation. On the other, there are stories like this. By using a special form of genetically modified cotton, smallhold farmers in India have been able to substantially increase their crop output — and quality of life.

The National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America has an abstract of this program in PDF that gives more details of how well this is working.


Purple library guy said...

I dunno. GM plants are somewhat problematic no matter who invents them. The problem is that current genetic modification relies on inserting genes that researchers think of as coding for the production of a particular substance, into a random location in the genome. That's a fundamentally flawed model. Genetic sequences are not generally simple 1:1 machines where this sequence makes this protein; they tend to do more than one thing, and do different things depending on what's near them. And while you can test to see if they are making what you wanted them to, it's dashed hard to test to make sure they're not doing anything else you didn't want them to.

Steve said...

why are they not growing Hemp instead?

I guess the same reason we dont.