Re: The politics of biotechnology
Tue, 1 Jun 1999 13:26:47 EDT

In a message dated 99-06-01 12:48:37 EDT, (Jonathan Reeves) writes:

> The environmental impact of gm crops is phenomenal, and extreme caution
> should be used in growing them in the wild. The effect of genetically
> modifying crops to withstand disease and insects would be similar to the
> problem of bacteria becoming resistant to penicilin - you simply force
> the thing you're trying to destroy to become stronger.

It's not GM crops in general, it's certain GM modifications. The BT plants, for example, express BT in all cells all the time. I can't believe they'd do that. It's just like spraying insecticide all the time and will result in rapid
resistance. Insecticides should only be used when needed to slow resistance. The BT plants should produce BT only when induced by insect damage - which is how plants often produce their own pesticides. If they did that, it would be no more hazard than current targeted spraying - less, probably.

While resistance is indeed a problem it's not entirely insoluble. You can stay ahead of the bugs. Proof: humans exist and can live for decades surrounded by hostiles. Likewise, plants can and do use endogenously produced insecticides and they do help.

The more conspiracy oriented say that the point of this *is* to induce tolerance to BT, which is a favored organic pesticide.