James and the Giant Corn Genetics: Studying the Source Code of Nature

January 6, 2010

Biodiversity and Genetic Engineering Aren’t Mutually Exclusive!

Filed under: Feeding the world,Plants — Tags: , , , — James @ 8:28 pm

The work of plant breeders and the naturalists who catalog so much of the genetic diversity passed down over 400 generations*, have done far more to feed people than genetic engineering thus far. The reason I spend so much time talking about genetic engineering (and to a lesser extent mutation breeding) isn’t because I think the techniques are more important than breeding using the existing diversity of crop plants and their wild ancestors, it’s because genetic engineering (and once more to a lesser extent mutation breeding) are the techniques that are subject to the most misinformation and opposition. If I had to choose, for the entire world, between marker assisted selection and genetic engineering, I’d choose marker assisted selection in a heartbeat. But we don’t have to chose.

Consider three cases: (more…)

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