GMO Vs "Mutation Breeding"

BingDing

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Or, another good reason not to eat wheat.

For reference, the GM in Genetically Modified Organism is explicitly defined as gene splicing, where a single gene is introduced into another genome and the people doing it at least nominally understand what they are doing.

This article The Story of Wheat is a pretty good read in its way. About two thirds down is

In 1956, a sample of a barley variety called Maythorpe was irradiated at Britain's Atomic Energy Research Establishment . The result was a strain with stiffer, shorter straw but the same early harvest and malting qualities, which would eventually reach the market as “Golden Promise”.

Today scientists use thermal neutrons, X-rays, or ethyl methane sulphonate, a harsh carcinogenic chemical—anything that will damage DNA—to generate mutant cereals. Virtually every variety of wheat and barley you see growing in the field was produced by this kind of “mutation breeding”. No safety tests are done; nobody protests. The irony is that genetic modification (GM) was invented in 1983 as a gentler, safer, more rational and more predictable alternative to mutation breeding—an organic technology, in fact. Instead of random mutations, scientists could now add the traits they wanted.

Gives a whole new meaning to the term "Frankenfood", doesn't it?
 

BingDing

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Wanted to follow up with my post. The author of the wheat article has an obvious agenda against the opposition to GMO; the comment that GMO (gene splicing) is "organic" is certainly fatuous.

I am not advocating GMO, but the author has a point. Mutation breeding is a lot scarier than GMO (gene splicing), with mutation breeding we haven't a clue what mutations have occurred in the plant genome other than those that gave rise to the phenotype they chose to propagate.

I think it was one of Michael Pollan's books that talked about a potato strain produced by mutation breeding that had high levels of the poison solanine. Left unwritten was that the mutant potatoes' high solanine was discovered by people that had eaten the potatoes and gotten sick. Potatoes produced by mutation breeding are now tested for solanine, IIRC.

And I can only wonder when organisms from the animal kingdom will be exposed to mutagens, to see what they can do. Scary as ***t, IMHO.
 
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