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This crop revolution may succeed where GM failed (Jeremy Rifkin)

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jpak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-30-06 09:50 AM
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This crop revolution may succeed where GM failed (Jeremy Rifkin)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,193146...

For years, the life-science companies - Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, Pioneer etc - have argued that genetically modified food is the next great scientific revolution in agriculture, and the only efficient and cheap way to feed a growing population in a shrinking world. Non-governmental organisations - including the Foundation on Economic Trends, of which I am president - have been cast as the villains in this agricultural drama, and often categorised as modern versions of the Luddites, accused of continually blocking scientific and technological progress because of our opposition to GM food.

Now, in an ironic twist, new cutting-edge technologies have made gene splicing and transgenic crops obsolete and a serious impediment to scientific progress. The new frontier is called genomics and the new agricultural technology is called marker-assisted selection (MAS). The new technology offers a sophisticated method to greatly accelerate classical breeding. A growing number of scientists believe MAS - which is already being introduced into the market - will eventually replace GM food. Moreover, environmental organisations that oppose GM crops are guardedly supportive of MAS technology.

Rapidly accumulating information about crop genomes is allowing scientists to identify genes associated with traits such as yield, and then scan crop relatives for the presence of those genes. Instead of using molecular splicing techniques to transfer a gene from an unrelated species into the genome of a food crop to increase yield, resist pests or improve nutrition, scientists are now using MAS to locate desired traits in other varieties or wild relatives of a particular food crop, then crossbreeding those plants with the existing commercial varieties to improve the crop. This greatly reduces the risk of environmental harm and potential adverse health effects associated with GM crops. Using MAS, researchers can upgrade classical breeding, and cut by 50% or more the time needed to develop new plant varieties by pinpointing appropriate plant partners at the gamete or seedling stage.

Using MAS, researchers in the Netherlands have developed a new lettuce variety resistant to an aphid that causes reduced and abnormal growth. Researchers at the US department of agriculture have used MAS to develop a strain of rice that is soft on the outside but remains firm on the inside after processing. Scientists in the UK and India have used MAS to develop pearl millet that is tolerant of drought and resistant to mildew. The crop was introduced into the market in India in 2005.

<more>

(yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it's Rifkin but...)


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hunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-30-06 01:06 PM
Response to Original message
1. Jeremy Rifkin is the Paris Hilton of environmentalism.
I think Big Corporate America likes it that way -- he's a squid they squeeze whenever a real predator shows up.

http://seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov/OCEAN_PLANET/HTML/squid_de...

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