agriculture: borlaug, shiva, Bt etc, from an agricultural scientist i know
strenghtens my suspicion that borlaug is talking through his hat.
a nobel prize is no indicator that the person has any sense.
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: P.G
I am very happy to see your mail and your interest in the ongoing controvery on the GM crops.
Well, it is a highly controversial topic. Vandana Shiva is an ardent opponent of transgenic biotechnology in agriculture.
I fully agree on all points made out by Dr Borlaug in the write up except the statement that the GM plants are good for farmers, environment and the consumer.
The consequences of GM crops on human and environment arehighly debated at different levels and a blanket statement from a renowned scientist of Dr Borlaug's stature is not in good spirit. If the GM crops and produce of chemical intensive farming are absolutely harmless then why so much preference for organic farming and organic products worldwide ?
The apprehensions about chemical intensive agriculture and agriculture adopting genetically modified crops are not quite unfounded even though many objections have not been empirically proved. Vandana Shiva goes to one extreme. The reality could be somewhere in between.
I can give you a few scientific facts for thewidespread fear of GM crops
Plant transformation typically involves tissue culture/cell culture ( i.e. regeneration of an intact plant from a single cell that has been treated with hormones and antibiotics and forced to undergo abnormal developmental changes) and either infection with a pathogenic organism or bombardment with tungsten particles. So it is quite possible that plant transformation resulted in significant genetic consequences that were unrelated to the nature of specifi transgene being inserted. This is the major point against adopting GM crops often highlighed by Vandana in most of her talks. It is true also to a great extent.
The second major point against GM crops is that antibiotic resistant gene which is used as marker gene during the genetic engineering process to identify that desired foreign gene is incorporated into the transformed cell could pose devastating consequences to end users particularly in raw vegetables.
Another consequence is for the environment. Major GM crops have Bt gene and weedicide resistant genes. The Bt gene is isolated from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis The gene confers resistance to manyinsects and pathogens. There is every possibility that these genes could get introgressed in the genome of the native species including humans and the consequences not yet known. The presence of transformation induced mutation poses a threat that is potentially very serious.
Imagine a situation wherein extensive farming areas have been occupied by weeds having weedicide resistant genes in the system. It could jeopardize the entire agriculturein the area.
In transgenic plant breeding, it is very important that hazardous mutations are either prevented or identified and removed prior to commercialization. But sadly we have no technology to do that at the moment.
The tall claims that molecular engineering in crop plants would provide simple solutions to complex problems are due to the inadequate knowledge of the deep rooted underlying problems.