Re: GENE / SOC: Current benefits of genengineering

From: Ken Clements (
Date: Tue Apr 25 2000 - 23:21:05 MDT

Dear Greg,

I suspect you are in a debate started by the GM foods issue. I did not
send you any ag pointers, because I suspect that is where your problems
are. Unfortunately, some major stupidity at Monsanto has put us in the
guilty until proven innocent position. However, it is not that way
everywhere. I found an interesting page at:, where in the paper they have
you can read:

> As stated earlier, rice yields in Thailand are low. One of the major constraints in this cultivation is blast disease, especially in high-quality rice cultivars such as the aromatic “Khao-Hom Dawk-Mali. In Northern Thailand, about 200,000 ha. of rice filed were affected by blast in 1993, causing serious economic loss and resulting in government intervention of about US$10 million to assist disease struck farmers. Another US$ 1.2 million was spent on fungicides [Disthaporn, 1994]. Attempts have been made to breed higher resistance levels to blast in Thai rice. Limiting factors, however, are 1] lack of insight and information of resistance genes and 2] the complex structure of the pathogen populations. Genetic analysis provides an efficient tool to identify useful resistance genes in the host while, at the same time, analysing the race composition of the pathogen population. Recent research activities applying molecular genetic methods, such as the DNA fingerprinting of a blast isolate collection at Ubon Ratchathani Rice Research Station, and mapping of host resistance genes by the DNA Fingerprinting Unit [one of the BIOTEC Specialized Units] at Kamphaengsaen, Kasetsart University, provide the basis work on the interaction between rice and blast. Currently, the project is centered around three closely related activities outlined below:
> - Establishment of a suitable differential cultivar series; identification of resistance genes conferring complete and partial resistance to blast disease in rice. This activity follows up on the project “Identification, mapping and utilization of rice blast resistance QTLs in improved aromatic rice varieties for Thailand.
> - Pathotype and molecular genetic characterization of the blast pathogen population in Thailand. Up to now, more than 500 mono-spore isolates were deposited at BIOTEC specialized culture collection.
> - The special case of fertile isolates; the potential of using Thai isolates of Magnaporthe grisea for the development of molecular, diagnostic tool for pathogen race analysis. The degree of fertility can be assessed from the timing and number of perithesia that develop. BIOTEC has the capacity to test the mating type of about 80 isolates per month.
> This project is a nation wide, network type collaboration combining molecular genetic and “classical approaches” to help plant breeders breeding rice cultivars with improved blast resistance.
> BIOTEC supported 60 million bahts in 1999 to start “Rice Genome Project Thailand". BIOTEC on behalf of Thailand has joined an International Collaboration for Sequencing the Rice Genome [ICSRG] by sequencing 1 Mb annually of chromosome 9 for the next five years. BIOTEC is expected to provide 150 million bahts to cover this work. The chromosome 9 was selected based on the previous extensive works on the fine genetic and physical maps surrounding the submergence tolerance QTL, the prospect of gene richness and the small chromosome size. Joining ICSRG will allow Thai scientists to directly access the rest of the genome sequence made available by the other collaborating members. In pararell, gene discovery from wild rice germplasm will be undertaken to efficiently utilize the genome sequence data. The project will bring Thailand to international scientific arena, incorporate state of the art technology and finally improve the competitive edge of Thailand in the international rice market.

Here you can see that genetic technology is in use to fight pathogens
that take the food out of the mouths of people, real people who are not
going to stand by and go hungry while they can use their brains to do
something about it.


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