It seems that the GMO genie is out of the bottle. But is it a good idea?
I think its a great idea. I’m just not so sure if we know exactly what the hell we are doing. Genetics is a complex field of knowledge. Geneticists claim they are five years away from completely understanding everything….. as they have been claiming for decades. It is far from being completely understood.
GMO is short for a “genetically modified organism.” While it is true that humans have been modifying the genome of organisms for millennia it is not true that we have been modifying the genetic code in the same sense that we are currently doing when we speak of genetic modification. There are a few important distinctions:
- Prior to the 1980’s we didn’t insert dna directly into the genome. The process was done through selective breeding. It is worth mentioning that this has also been shown to have some very negative side effects.
Study shows domestication of dogs led to an increase in harmful genetic changes
- Prior to the 1980’s we didn’t insert genes of another species or even another kingdom of life.
- Inserting uniform genes across populations reduces genetic variance.
Manipulating a genome through selective breeding is considered a much safer approach than directly inserting genes. But even this isn’t without consequence. Normally genes are chosen by the conditions of nature, the environment that the species lives in. As a result you will find organisms well suited for their environment in a balanced ecosystem. When humans decide what genes to include or exclude in a population the decisions are based on what is immediately beneficial for us.
We want it to provide a greater yield so it could feed more people or in the case of corporations they are based on the desire of shareholders to make them more money. While there is a possibility that the decision could yield more money and just by pure chance also make the organism more well suited for an ecological niche the probability is low.
I’ll speak on the other two points on a post later this week.
I would love to hear thoughts on what I’ve said so far!