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"Voracious Worm Evolves to Eat Biotech Corn Engineered to Kill It"

Nobody could have predicted....

Of course, I'm sure Monanto will be more than happy to sell farmers an upgrade.

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V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

“We're all of us children in a vast kindergarten trying to spell God's name with the wrong alphabet blocks.”
Edwin Arlington Robinson

GMO crops will do us in, period!
Bad for the bees (kill the bees and we're dead), bad for the plant, bad for our future.
We try to make up for stupid decisions and greed, with technology.
Again, I refer to the above ^...

jo6pac's picture
Submitted by jo6pac on

the getmo corn growen in the fields next to the house I rent is anything but chemical free.
1. Ground is fumigated
2. Corn seed planted
3. Corn at about 4 weeks sprayed by tractor every 3 weeks until to tall
4. Then sprayed by plane every 3 days until picked to go to market.
5. Yep it still has worms in it.

Gitmo corn for feed doesn't not break down in the cows stomach.

Well I need to go out to the greenhouse and water my starter plants for the garden:)

Submitted by lambert on

I like that if it's not a typo, and even if it is.

quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

Well, just to get all boring and academic here, there are several distinct issues with GM food.

1) The trait itself. It can be a really Good Thing, like adding Vit. A to rice and preventing blindness. Strangely enough, that's a minute proportion of the GM rice grown. It can be a generally good thing, like the Bt corn in the Wired article. Handled correctly, that allows corn to be grown without human- or environment-damaging pesticides. They have not been growing it correctly. Strangely enough. Last, it can be a Really Really Really Bad Thing, like RoundUp Resistance. Something like 75% of soybeans are Monsanto-patented RR beans. That allows way more Monsanto-patented Roundup herbicide to be dumped on the fields and yet the Monsanto-patented crop survives (mostly, so far). A real drug pusher situation which is bad for everybody except Monsanto.

2. The byproducts of the genetic modifications are not studied anywhere near well enough. Viruses have to be used to insert the genes of interest. Except for doing that, they're not supposed to do anything else. But viruses have a neat trick of altering DNA reading frames, which means the same stretch of DNA can be read multiple ways. Bits of the viruses accompany the genes of interest. It's been assumed the bits do nothing. Recently, it's turned out that in the different regulatory environment of a plant cell, some of that viral DNA might be read. That still doesn't mean it produces anything but junk for the cell to sweep out, but the disquieting thing is that wasn't supposed to happen at all.

3. The effects on human health have largely been short-term studies, i.e. months. I'd like to see some population-level longitudinal studies spanning a decade.

4. Most GM crops, except as in the Vit A example earlier, are developed to make the farmer's or retailer's profit higher. That is, the genetic modifications allow bad farming and food-handling practices. Those have a big and obvious effect on the environment and on vitamin content, both of which directly affect health. My guess is that this prosaic point is the one which will cause the most and the most widespread damage from GM food.

So, anyway, fwiw, what I'm trying to say is that GM food doesn't have to be atrocious. But the way it's currently applied, it mostly is.

Submitted by hipparchia on

from the wired article:

Key to effective management, said the scientists, were refuges set aside and planted with non-Bt corn. Within these fields, rootworms would remain susceptible to the Bt toxin. By mating with any Bt-resistant worms that chanced to evolve in neighboring fields, they’d prevent resistance from building up in the gene pool.

so the resistant worms won't pass their genes on to ensuing generations, but the non-resistant ones will? seems unlikely, and the fact that recommendations were originally for planting 50% of the land in non-bt corn seems to bear that out.

1) The trait itself. It can be a really Good Thing, like adding Vit. A to rice and preventing blindness. Strangely enough, that's a minute proportion of the GM rice grown.

yeah, funny that. and it's going to remain a small portion of the rice grown for at least a couple of reasons: not just anybody can grow it for free, and not everybody who depends on rice for food has a vitamin a deficient diet (and if you can get those people to supplement their diet with carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, meat, etc, why do you even need gmo rice?)

quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

"so the resistant worms won't pass their genes on to ensuing generations, but the non-resistant ones will?"

Yeah, that would be counterintuitive. What happens is this. Because most organisms (humans perhaps the only exception) live so close to the edge, any energy expended in one direction is lost to all other directions. Resistance to Bt takes a certain amount of biological energy. The wild type is not expending that energy so they're slightly more biologically vigorous animals (except in susceptibility to Bt). On the whole, they outcompete the Bt-resistant strains, and at a population level "on the whole" is what matters.

That's true of all genetically modified organisms, so one of the big challenges for GMO producers is to keep the traits from dying out. That's a problem, for instance, when it's used to modify mosquitoes to try to stop malaria transmission. (Not a problem in patented crops, of course, where the company wants to be sure they can't grow without permission.)

Submitted by hipparchia on

1. fitness costs vary.

2. there's nothing stopping ensuing generations from developing adaptations to those fitness costs either.

and yes, both of my statements here are simplistic, to say the least, and therefore it's mildly unfair of me to belittle wired magazine for being a tad simplistic. not that I let that stop me. :)

Submitted by lambert on

... to farmers. Since every plant is an "heirloom" plant, and the germ plasm is a Common Pool Resource, this is the worst of all bad ideas.

I really think that a polemic focus on the "science" of GM foods is a distraction, and in my more paranoid moments, I think that anti-GM bad science is planted to discredit anti-GM. The winger nutrionist sites are full of that stuff

V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

...but mark my words: GMO as presently implemented is going to destroy our crops/agriculture.
With climate change well under way; there'll be hell enough to pay with the existing crops already showing stress.
At 13° N. latitude there are very few (types) tomatoes that can be grown here. Native chilies do fine of course, but Jalapenos, Habaneros, and many other types of chilies cannot be easily grown here. I've been one of the more successful to grow Habaneros, but only in a brief window (October to February). This is but a pitifully small example of the problems facing the more northern latitudes now and in the very near future.
GMO has nothing to do with benefiting humanity and everything to do with with damn few companies controlling our food.Period!